Ultimately, it came down to 180 minutes of oral presentations between six schools to decide which team would take home the top prize at this year’s annual Roofing Alliance Construction Management Student Competition, held on the second day of the 2023 International Roofing Expo in Dallas.
Over the past decade, the Roofing Alliance — the nonprofit foundation arm of the National Roofing Contractors Association — has invited college students to compete for prizes in a contest challenging their roofing knowledge, construction management and presentation skills.
Teams research the chosen project — in this case, the roof structure for Dallas’s Globe Life Field. Each school submitted a qualified bid package proposal and gave an oral presentation illustrating their roofing, project management, estimating and safety knowledge. The six teams were each allotted 15 minutes to present and then fielded questions for an additional 10 to 15 minutes from the panel of judges. The total number of points available to win was out of 300, two-thirds of which depended on the quality of oral presentations.
Each team carried itself as if it was an actual roofing contractor presenting a bid to the judges, who played the role of the general contractor. The detail involved was as extensive. From timelines, budgets and safety protocols, each school offered its version of how its contracting business would complete the task. The specificity was impressive for students who had only visited Globe Life Field for the first time while in Dallas for the competition. Judges inquired about material and labor costs, workforce requirements, construction techniques and staging.
“This student competition is one of the highlights of the Roofing Alliance on an annual basis,” said John Yuko, president of GSM Roofing and a judge of the competition. “We look forward to this competition throughout the year and the work the schools put into the projects and final presentations that take place at IRE.”
The six finalists included: Bradley University, Peoria, Ill.; California Polytechnic University, San Luis Obispo, Calif.; Clemson University, Clemson, S.C.; Colorado State University, Fort Collins, Colo.; Texas A&M University, College Station, Texas, and; the University of Florida, Gainesville, Fla.
The reviewers included industry heavyweights from across the manufacturing, contracting and distributing areas of the roofing trade. Each has participated as a judge in the competition since its inception in 2014.
“The Roofing Alliance Student Competition really is a chance for students in the areas of construction management, architecture and engineering to really understand the complexities of what we do every day,” explained Helene Hardy-Pierce, a judge and vice president of Building Science & Systems, Regulations & Industry Support for roofing manufacturer GAF. “They bid the project and have an understanding of it from start to finish; this really exposes them to the complexities of commercial roofing systems that are highly technical and require precise choreography to execute.”
Teams offered their unique vision for beginning the project, what safety protocols would be in place — and how to enforce those mandates — as well as detailed timelines for material delivery, staffing needs and more.
Only One Team Can Win
In the end, there could only be one top prize-getter. This year’s first-place award went to Clemson University, which presented second this year and has participated in the contest for the past four years. Clemson takes home the L. B. Conway Scholarship, worth $5,000 to the school, and trophies for each team member.
Second place went to the students at the University of Florida, which took home the Fred C. Good Scholarship for $2,500, awarded to U-F; each team member received a trophy. Texas A&M University won third place.
Individual awards for best presenters included Dylan Smithwick, team captain for Colorado State University, who took first place and won a $300 American Express gift card. Second place went to Adam Wascher of Bradley University, who won a $200 American Express gift card.
The NRCA announced the winners during its annual gala and awards ceremony on March 8, 2023.
“We are very proud of this competition,” said Allen Lancaster, Roofing Alliance Construction Management Committee chairman and vice president of Metalcrafts, a Tecta America Co., based in Savannah, Ga. “We want the roofing industry to share details about the competition with construction management schools they may be associated with and ask them to consider participating.”