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Lyles College of Engineering

                                    Students from the construction management commercial building team

Construction management students win annual competition

Students from the Lyles College of Engineering at Fresno State took first place in the Commercial Category for Region 7 at the 37th annual Associated Schools of Construction Competition held Feb. 7 through 10.

The competition, held in Sparks, Nevada, brought over 1,700 students from 55 universities together to compete in the heavy civil, commercial, design-build and mixed use categories. Over 100 companies were also in attendance for a career fair. 

“I was surprised when they announced that we won first place,” said team captain Matthew Forney. “It’s proof that Fresno State’s construction management program is competitive with other universities within the CSU system, and throughout Region 7.”

The 19 teams in the commercial category were given a problem statement at Los Angeles Airport Police Headquarters, located at 9160 Loyola Blvd. in Los Angeles. Each team was sequestered at 6 a.m. on the second day of the competition and had until 10 p.m. the same day to submit their proposals. 

This year’s problem statement tasked the teams with estimating, project scheduling, site utilization planning, project safety, personnel issues and other time-warp deliverables. The third day involved the teams presenting their proposals to a panel of judges. Each team was evaluated on their presentation skills, creativity, problem solving abilities and the ability to respond to extemporaneous, complex questions. Up to 200 points were awarded for the written and oral deliverables. 

“Leading up to the competition, we were able to review past problem statements and make predictions for what might be the problem for this year,” Forney said. “We also practiced a lot of the technical skills and took the time to do anything we could to prepare for being under the time crunch at the competition.” 

In preparation, the Fresno State commercial build team began working together in spring 2023. Forney said the team also incorporated a variety of technology, such as Bluebeam, Microsoft Project, Revit and others into its weekly preparations. 

Of the eight students on the Fresno State commercial team, three were returning students who competed at last year’s competition including Agustin Hernandez, a construction management student and co-captain.  

“This is a win for everybody that’s been through the program,” Hernandez said. “So, hopefully, this will last a long time and we can recruit new students who are inspired to replicate what we were able to accomplish.”

Hernandez is graduating this spring and said he feels at peace leaving the program on a high note. He credits the team’s communication and positive attitude as contributing factors to its success at the competition. He said he is thankful for the guidance provided by faculty adviser Christi Banks and local industry coach Garrett Vermeltfoort, of Quiring General.

Banks has taught in the Department of Construction Management at Fresno State for over six years. She is a 1993 alumna of the program and is the faculty adviser of the Lyles College of Engineering Bluebeam User Group (BUG) and the commercial construction team for the Associated Schools of Construction and Associated Builders and Contractors Competitions. She has received Exceptional Service to Student Awards in 2021 and 2023, for her advising and mentoring of these student groups.

“The last time Fresno State placed in the commercial category was in 2007, and it was second place,” Banks said. “So this came as a bit of a shock because we would have been grateful placing, but we were awarded the whole thing and it’s just so amazing. I am so proud of our team of hardworking students.”  

She credits the team’s success to the assistance and support from the team’s industry partners like Vermeltfoort, who assists her with estimating support to the team.

Banks describes her role as being the team’s biggest cheerleader. She said aside from the obvious technical skills, it was important for her to encourage the team to build their individual and collective confidence so they become the best version of themselves.

“These competitions are inspirational for the students and other departments as well, and we want our university community to see that we do have the capability to have these kinds of successes,” Banks said. “We’re not in San Francisco, we’re not in Los Angeles, but we are in the Central Valley, and we have amazing students here.”