Built Environment Career Fair

The Built Environment Career Fair includes students in construction management, facility management, architecture, engineering, or interior design. In 2021 the fair was held online for the second year in a row. Students met with employers via virtual group and one-on-one sessions, organized by Career and Internship Services. There were 729 one-to-one sessions with 48 no-shows out of a possible 2,353 sessions. Group sessions were also available within this format, with 227 registrations and 31 no-shows. A total of 345 students registered for the fair.

Despite the shortened online format, 119 students attended the fair from the University of Minnesota and nine other regional universities with Construction Management programs. In addition, the online format in 2020 allowed students to attend from five universities nationwide; 34 employers participated.

The Career Fair is a successful event that generates positive feedback from employers each year, with 90% stating in 2020 that student preparation for the event was either good or excellent; 46% of students visited three or more employers. Most employers interview candidates for jobs or internships as a result of the career fair and collect resumes for review.

The 2021 Career Fair took place on October 1, 2021.

Career Fair Statistics

Event Statistics






Students, U of M






Students, Non-U of M






Total Students






Registered Employers






Universities Represented







1 photo with a hammer shaped trophy, and people standing at exhibit booths

Images from the Career Fair and Quiz Bowl Event

Quiz Bowl

In conjunction with the Built Environment Career Fair, the University of Minnesota hosts the annual Intercollegiate Construction Management Quiz Bowl. It was not possible to hold the event again in 2021 since the Career Fair is again virtual, so the winning NDSU team from 2019 retains the trophy until the next Quiz Bowl scheduled for 2023.

Normally the event features teams from seven regional institutions: Dunwoody College of Technology; Minnesota State University Moorhead; Minnesota State University, Mankato; North Dakota State University; South Dakota School of Mines and Technology; University of Minnesota; University of Wisconsin-Stout. Institutions may send multiple teams to compete.

Questions are provided and reviewed by faculty from competing schools and the event is judged by industry sponsors.

2019 Quiz Bowl Teams from University of Minnesota

2019 CM Quiz Bowl

Women’s semifinalist team (from left to right): Paige Dehmer, Aalayha Robb, Brinnon Kubista, Lauren Gray
Men’s team (from left to right): Mitch Johnson, Sam Franta, Adam Wardak, and Tyler Stenzel

The National Association of Homebuilders Four-Year Program National Competition

Occasionally, our students assemble a team in the fall semester to compete in the annual National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) competition. Teams submit a management proposal on a large residential development project in December, and they present their recommendations to a jury of construction company executives at the NAHB Conference in January/February. The project submission also serves as an approved capstone project that students can count toward their coursework completion.

These projects typically require conception of a site development plan, presentation of a variety of unit types, and a completed economic proforma, along with total project cost, scheduling development, and a marketing plan. It is one of the tougher, more highly competitive competitions in the country for residential programs. Many peer institutions have full coursework designed just for this competition. For our program, it is a “club” event.

Our last competition team of nine students completed a full proposal for the Ridge Point development in North Carolina, achieving 85 of a possible 100 points and taking 13th place in the 2021 virtual event.

Homebuilding Judges Panel in Las Vegas

Presenting online to the judges panel in Las Vegas: link to video of presentation

Previous NAHB Results

  • 2021: 13th of 29 teams
  • 2020: 24th of 40+ teams, featured collaboration with Health Services Management for Age-in-Place living facility in Arizona
  • 2014: 14th place and awarded Rookie-of-the-Year

While this team works in their spare time to complete the entry, the team had guidance from various mentors: Dean Soderbeck (Soderbeck Design and Construction), Jeremiah Cunningham (alum and former NAHB contestant), Paul Kolias (alum, Doran Construction), and others.

The NAIOP University Challenge: First Place!

For the second time, the Construction Management program coordinated with the Urban Studies Program in the Department of Geography on an entry into the National Association of Industrial and Office Parks regional competition. Led by Paula Pentel for many years, we had two students participate as part of their capstone course project: Eric Shaffran (a presenter), and Seth Wagner. This challenge requires a concise written proposal for a real site with a development plan, construction timeline, budget, proforma, leasing plan and schedule, financing plan, and market analysis. A week after submitting their written proposals, teams have 10 minutes to present their plan to the competition judges, who are industry experts.

CMGT students winning first place at NAIOP

Third Place Team: CMGT students Erik Shaffran (left) and Grace Stranik (third from right)
Not pictured: Seth Wagner

This year student teams from five regional universities researched and pitched redevelopment and repurposing of a former, empty corporate office building.

The Pursuit Competition

Sponsored by Ryan Companies, the Pursuit is a capstone-level competition judged by an industry panel. Ryan Construction provides information on one of their buildings: schedules, costs, and technical details of plans, as well as staff support, and the students use these to create a proposal, hoping to “win” a contract much like in real life.

Nine universities that teach Construction Management—Wisconsin Stout, Minnesota State Moorhead, South Dakota State, North Dakota State, Wisconsin Stout, St. Cloud State, Dunwoody, University of Northern Iowa (could not compete this year), and the University of Minnesota—participate in this competition, each sending one team to compete. In any given year, up to 250 students may be involved in the competition. Initially an informal event started by the University of Minnesota in 2014, the Pursuit Competition became a regional fixture in 2016.

Pursuit Competition 2022 team

From Left to Right: Piper Gartner, Madi Winter, Ensar Smailagic, Henry Lin and Cami Vargo

This year the U of M team CHEMP Construction placed fifth overall, and though not where they wanted to be, the team was dynamic, did a great job of presenting, and produced a professional result. Still Gopher proud!

Final Four: The Golden Pen Award

The Golden Pen is an annual event, now in its 16th year, in the CMGT 4041W Specifications and Technical Writing for Construction Professionals course. Student teams compete by writing a design build proposal for the Shoreview Library, hoping to land one of four finalist spots for the opportunity to present their proposal before the “Building Committee” of industry constituents comprising contractors, developers, bankers, public relations personnel, and IT experts. This committee then selects a winning team, whose names are etched into a permanent trophy plaque.

Golden Pen 2022 team

Final presentation by Brandi Rutten (left) and Cami Vargo

For AY 2021–22, its 16th year, the winning team Gopher Contracting, Brandi Rutten and Cami Vargo, took home the Golden Pen, held in person.

Participating judges: Molly Grove, Mary McNellis, Brian Recker, Ted Lentz, Matt Lange (former participant)

Guest Speakers

During the academic year, program faculty invite professionals from varied areas of industry to attend class as guest lecturers and to judge student presentations, or participate through videotaped lectures and interviews. This helps students gain a broader perspective of the field, providing value-added experience to the classroom. The following are some of the guest speakers hosted in Construction Management classes during the 2021–22 academic year. Thank you to our industry speakers!

CMGT Guest Speakers 2021−22




Speaker Affiliation

ABUS 4013W Terrance Newby Intellectual property law (video) Maslon law firm
  Holly Robbins Employment Law and HR (video) Littler Mendelson law firm
ABUS 4217 Robert Lux Project Development (video) Alatus LLC
  Joy Nazarri Branding Places DN & Co
  Brian Schaffer City Planning (video) Principal Planner, City of Minneapolis
  Pete Vorbrich Real Estate Investment (video) CFO at CarVal Investors
ABUS 4218 Jennifer Ericson Community Development Finance (video) Community Reinvestment Fund, Minneapolis
  Paul Mullaney Real Estate Lending (video) CarVal Investors
  Tom Salmen Commercial Banks and Real Estate (video) US Bank
  Deidre Schmidt Affordable Housing Finance (video) CommonBond Communities
  Jody Tableporter Urban Regeneration Finance (video) U of M CCAPS
ABUS 4545 Robin DiAngelo, PhD White Fragility (Webinar) University of Washington
CMGT 3001W Bob Rawell General Conditions, Overhead, and Profit AutoBuilders General Contracting Services
CMGT 4041W Jeff Callinan State Capitol Competition Discussion JE Dunn Construction
  Brian Recker Final Four Judge RJM Construction
  Mary McNellis Final Four Judge  Real Estate Developer
  Ted Lentz Final Four Judge Architect (Retired)
  Matt Lange Final Four Judge JE Dunn, Alumna
  Molly Grove Final Four Judge Wells Fargo (Retired)
CMGT 4196 Ryan Kuznia Presentation Judge - Summer 21 Weis Builders
  Chris Busch Presentation Judge - Summer 21 ArchKey Technologies
  Sean Scott Presentation Judge - Summer 21 PCL Construction
  Dale Forsberg Presentation Judge - Sum/Fall 21 Watson Forsberg
  Brian Recker Presentation Judge - Sum/Fall 21 RJM Construction
  Laura Magnuson Presentation Judge - Fall 21 Securian Corp.
  Justine Pliska Presentation Judge - Fall 21 MNSCU
  Lisa Uhler Presentation Judge - Fall 21 Blake School
  Mariah Dean Presentation Judge - Fall 21 EDEN Resources
  Steve Hauser Presentation Judge - Fall 21 Target Corp.
CMGT 4213 FF&E Dealer Guest Speaker Fluid Interiors
CMGT 4562 Amy Satterfield Indoor Air Quality Institute for Environmental Assessment
  Jason Hanlon Corrosion of Steel Building Components Braun Intertec Corporation
  Paul Whitenack Quality Assurance and Quality Control Kraus Anderson Construction
  Mark Swanson Masonry Wall Enclosure Design International Masonry Institute
  Pat Conway Masonry Wall Construction Architect
  Robert Grupe EIFS Association of the Wall and Ceiling Industry
  Robert Grupe Cement Plaster Systems (Stucco) Association of the Wall and Ceiling Industry
  Craig Wetmore Flashings York Flashings
  Dave Campbell Cavity Wall Air Barriers UM Faculty
  Craig Wetmore Wall Component Compatibility York Flashings
  Bill Pierro Flat Roof Details Kline-Johnson and Associates
  Michael Angelo Rooftop Fall Protection Overview Dakota Safety
  Andre Lehr Building Enclosure Commissioning Braun Intertec Corporation
  George Ramsay Window Design Criteria and Installation Details Pella Corporation
  Matt Gums Storefront vs Curtain Wall vs Window Wall Systems Empirehouse
CMGT 4861 Zaylore Stout HR Case Studies Attorney
  Paris Otremba HR Case Studies Adolfsen & Peterson
  Megan Seltz HR Case Studies Academic Advisor
  Yolanda McIntosh HR Case Studies DEI Director, AGC-MN
  Paul Kolias Judge (Alumna) Dorn Construction
  Gilbert Odonkor Judge (Alumnus) Hennepin County
  Dale Forsberg Judge Watson Forsberg
  Steve Day Judge Sullivan Day Construction

Site Visits

Faculty also lead site visits and field trips to further enhance the student learning experience and bring sites into the classroom via site videos. The following are some of the sites that hosted visits by Construction Management classes and site videos shown in class. With thanks to our industry partners.

Site Visits and Site Videos, Fall 2020−Summer 2021

Class Site Delivery Method
ABUS 4013W Eureka Mills Superfund Site Video
CMGT 3001W 35W Crosstown construction Video
CMGT 4022 Super Bridge video Video
CMGT 4081 Pioneer Hall construction project Virtual site visit
CMGT 4545 Braun Intertec, Bloomington Testing lab tour
Ruttan Hall Tour of structural components
Raptor Center Tour of structural components