DATE: Jan. 23, 1998
PU/NC Construction Club Again Wins National Honors
WESTVILLE - It's beginning to be a habit. For the fourth year in a row, Purdue University North Central's Construction Club students have placed at or near the top in national competition. This year's honors came at the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) annual convention last week (Jan. 17) in Dallas, Texas.
A home design project involving seven club members took second place in the two-year college division of the Construction Management Competition and the entire club was named runner-up among two- and four-year colleges across the country in the Outstanding Student Chapter competition. Both events were sponsored by the Home Builders Institute, the education arm of NAHB. A team from Purdue's West Lafayette campus took second place in the four-year college construction competition.
Purdue North Central was the only school to place in the top three in both competitions, according to club advisor David Burrus, assistant professor of building construction management.
The construction competition required the students to solve a problem involving a single-family home, then modify and recreate the building plans, develop a materials list for the project and produce a video presentation. All this had to be done within a three-week time period.
Not only is it a test of skill and knowledge, the design competition is a test of endurance. Seventeen schools entered the two-year college competition, but only 14 completed their projects, according to club president Brent McCrery.
"It's a feat just to finish on time," McCrery said. "We got the project on December 13, which was also the beginning of Finals Week. Each of our team members put in more than 100 hours between then and January 7, when we had to put it in the mail. At one point, two of us were at the campus for three days straight, another person was here for two days, and the rest would go home briefly to sleep."
"The students did this all on their own, and they sacrificed their semester break and Christmas holiday," Burrus said.
In addition to the five team members, two other students produced the seven-minute video for the competition. Team members included McCrery, LaPorte; Aaron Johnson, South Bend; Don DuQuette, Wheatfield; Brandy Byers, Valparaiso; and Sarah Cheeks, Valparaiso. The video was produced by Shawn Halstead, Portage and Douglas Fritts, Hebron. All are students in PU/NC's building construction management or architectural technology degree programs.
For the project, the team was asked to visualize a married couple who want several changes in a basic house plan, including reconfiguring a master bedroom-bath, changing another bedroom into a study, redesigning the kitchen island, moving or removing a fireplace and positioning the house on a slightly sloping lot. Although it was not required, the PU/NC team also prepared structural and heat-loss calculations and developed quality control procedures for construction. The finished product also had to meet building codes for a northwest Indiana community.
In addition to discussion and research, the students worked with several types of software regularly used in the home construction industry, which they learned to use in their classwork at PU/NC.
The most difficult part of the project was during the judging in Dallas, when the audio portion of the videotape failed to produce sound. "We had to react quickly, so we got up and narrated it ourselves," McCrery said. "We were more worried than scared, but I think we handled ourselves very well under pressure. In fact, several people from other schools congratulated us on how well we adapted to the problem. When the judges gave their comments, everything they said about our project was complimentary."
In the Outstanding Student Chapter competition, the entire Construction Club was honored for a year's worth of accomplishments in campus, chapter, community and fund-raising activities. Judging was based on a scrapbook of documents, clippings and photos to highlight the activities. There are 110 student chapters throughout the U.S., representing both two- and four-year colleges.
Thirteen Construction Club members, plus co-advisor and building construction instructor Michael Vernich, made the trip to Dallas for the competition, where the club is becoming a perennial high finisher. The home construction team placed first in 1995 and took second place in 1996, while the club took second in the outstanding chapter competition in 1996 and won the award last year. Individuals also placed second in affordable housing essay competitions in 1995 and 1996. This year, Purdue North Central was the only school to place in the top three in two categories, club advisor Burrus said.