Tin Nguyen of the University of Washington (center) makes a point with his teammates during the mini-competition at the 2007 Student Chapter Summit, hosted by MCAA. Listening in are Justin Bearden of Georgia Tech (left) and Daniel Mosteller of Southern Polytechnic State University.

CLEVELAND - The nearly 130 student chapter members who attended the Mechanical Contractors Association of America’s (MCAA’s) 2007 Student Chapter Summit received a solid taste of what to expect from the 2007-08 Student Chapter Competition, which culminates at next year’s association convention.

But, that - excuse the incorrect English - ain’t all. During the recent two-day event:

• Attendees had the opportunity to spend an entire evening browsing the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, much to the satisfaction of all present, which included a few faculty advisors, a few local association executives and staff, and a few contractors who came to and participated in the summit.

• Students sat in on informative sessions, including “How and Why HVAC Equipment is Turning Green,” led by engineering consultant Nick Collins of PAE Engineering Consultants, Portland, Ore.; and “General Conditions of the Contract and Other Proposal Traps,” led by Ken Durr of Durr Mechanical Construction Inc., New York, N.Y., and professor Keith Rahn of Illinois State University.

• All parties received an extensive afternoon tour of the UA Local 120/MCA of Cleveland Joint Apprenticeship Training Center; where most of the college-aged youth learned - possibly for the first time - how pipe is fitted, welded, installed, and tested.

• There was plenty of time set aside to learn about chapter developments from colleges and universities around the country, including a public address and insights from members of the University of Wisconsin-Stout, the 2006 Student Chapter of the Year.

In short, MCAA entertained, educated, fed, tested, and grilled these potential future engineers, techs, and workers, who also happen to be members of MCAA student chapters. In all, it was both a learning and fun experience for most. “I learned a lot,” said student attendee Katie Watt of Georgia Tech. “I learned a lot from fellow students and from the sessions. It was a lot of fun.”


Watt was one of seven hard-working participants from Team 4 that took home $100 each for winning the easier-said-than-done mini-competition. Not long into the summit, participants were divided up into teams. Each team’s task was to prepare a short, 10-minute presentation on why their make-believe firm would be the ideal company to have as a part of the design-build team that was to create a new regional headquarters for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. (For the actual mini-competition instructions, see sidebar below.)

It was encouraging for MCAA President Dave Kruse, vice president Lonnie Coleman, and other MCAA executives to see the young men and women working side-by-side at tables, each having less than 24 hours to produce a published report. Coleman helped assist with plans and arrangements.

“I’m a huge fan of this program,” expressed Kruse at the podium. “It’s awesome.”

In the end, Watt and Team 4 captured the attention of the judges to take home the crown. In addition to Watt, team members included Kevin Current of Illinois State University, Joseph Sabanos of Fairleigh Dickinson University, Ryan Hoefer of Oregon State, Mike Clark of Kent State, Adam Grubb of Colorado State, and Charlie Cravens of Northern Kentucky University.

Working together on the mini-competition project are (left to right) Mosteller (back to camera, left), Colin Lodl of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, James Parilek of the University of Wisconsin-Stout, Garrett McGuckin of California State University-Sacramento, and Nguyen.

After each team made its presentation, but before the eventual winning team was announced, University of Nebraska-Lincoln assistant professor Timothy Wentz walked through the project step-by-step so students learned what was actually accomplished. The mini-competition task was an actual job performed by M.E. Group Inc., an engineering and consulting firm with multiple locations including Lincoln, Neb.

In truth, the mini-competition was a dry run for the actual 2007-08 Student Chapter Competition, which was revealed at the summit. For those student chapters that enter, the task will be to provide a proposal for the mechanical construction of an addition to the headquarters of A.J. Ahern Co. in Fond du Lac, Wis. The project is a three-story addition of an existing two-story building. The addition includes approximately 58,000 square feet of space and an atrium will connect the two buildings.

The Northern California Mechanical Contractors Student Chapter of California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, took first prize in the 2006-07 competition. The team received a cash prize of $5,000.

What school will win next year’s contest is anyone’s guess. Katie Watt and her Georgia Tech teammates are expected to at least enter the race, especially after finishing second in the 2006-07 contest.

“We’ll see,” said Watt.

For bid breakdown, drawings, and all competition rules, go to www.greencontractors.us. The Website also contains the presentations made by Nick Collins at the 2007 Student Chapter Summit meeting, along with the presentation made by Ken Durr and professor Keith Rahn.

Instructors at the UA Local 120/MCA of Cleveland Joint Apprenticeship Training Center in Cleveland demonstrate a piping procedure for attendees of the 2007 Student Chapter Summit, hosted by MCAA. Student chapter members were given an extensive tour of the facility.

Sidebar: Are You Smarter Than College Students?

Here is the one sheet of information, with instructions, given to participants in the mini-competition at the recent 2007 Student Chapter Summit:

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security has decided to build a new regional headquarters in Cleveland, Ohio. The project will be conducted under the auspices of the General Services Administration (GSA), who will accept the best, lowest bid on a 30-year lease.

Due to an overwhelming workload, Homeland Security will give extra consideration to developers who submit a design/construction schedule that allows Homeland Security to move into the building at the earliest possible date.

The Homeland Security Administration requires a unique, multipurpose building to meet its needs. The building must contain offices for its employees, two courtrooms, holding cells for detained individuals, a sally port, a public waiting area, and a weapons/ammunition vault. Part of the building will be highly restricted due to Homeland Security’s broad mission of safeguarding our country’s security. At the same time, a part of the building must be open and accessible to the general public to attend deportation hearings, appeal travel restrictions, and other similar activities.

The successful developer will be expected to produce a turnkey project, including the purchasing of the land, the designing of the building, the construction of the building and, finally, its operation and maintenance. The developer of this project will retain ownership of the building and will be responsible for its utility costs, thus creating for the developer a vested economic interest in keeping the utility costs as low as possible.

The GSA expects the design and construction of the project to conform in all respects to current GSA design and construction guidelines, which include the requirement that the building will be awarded not less than a LEED-NC silver rating, as defined by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC). Owing to the current administration’s recent emphasis on environmental issues and energy conservation, a preference will be given to developers who achieve LEED ratings higher than silver.

A local developer has asked you to prepare a short, 10-minute presentation on why your firm would be the ideal company to have as a part of this design-build team. You are very excited about this opportunity, as you have learned that the developer has asked only two other local mechanical firms to make a presentation.

Additionally, you know the developer well and have been very successful on their projects in the past, although this will be your first “green” project with this developer.

In analyzing the project, you believe the secret to obtaining this project is to develop a strategy to give the developer a LEED-NC gold project (39 points) for roughly the same cost as a LEED-NC silver project (33 points). [A LEED-NC checklist was attached to the information sheet, with items highlighted that pertain to mechanical construction.]

Up to the challenge? MCAA student chapter members at the recent summit did not have a choice.

Publication Date:11/19/2007