The University of Minnesota's Construction Management program has lots of opportunity to get involved, learn from each other, and have fun!
Construction and Facilities Management students can get involved in a variety of activities throughout the year. Participating in a competition or other group activity is a great way to connect with your peers and the broader community, test your mettle, and learn something new along the way.
Golden Pen Award - Final Four (Cmgt 4041W)
Started in 2007 as part of the Specifications and Technical Communications class, this competition tests students’ writing and presentation skills. Four teams of two to three students submit a competitive proposal for a project, which mirrors the actual process used in industry, and the four teams present their proposals in front of a committee of industry experts. The award is the Golden Pen, and the students get their names on the trophy plaque.
Minnesota Construction Association (MCA) Leadership Academy Pentathlon
Originally started as an internal University event, the Pentathlon is open to University of Minnesota construction management students and to students from other regional schools in the Construct*ium league. It takes place every two years in April and is now part of the Association’s Leadership Academy for students and working professionals. The Pentathlon comprises several competitions, including job interviewing, freeform presenting, and a “Table Topics” competition, modeled on the Toastmasters format. Prizes are awarded by MCA.
Offered in conjunction with the Built Environment Career Fair, this competition was started casually as a fun post-Spring break event in 2012, and quickly became an intra-college competition starting in 2013. Using a Jeopardy-like format, in which teams of up to four students compete in three qualifying rounds, teams answer construction-related questions before a panel of judges. The questions get harder as teams progress through the semi-finals and, ultimately, the finals. Teams from U of M peer institutions in the upper midwest (which form the Construct*ium league) compete for the privilege of hosting the J.E.Dunn Traveling Trophy (think Floyd of Rosedale but for construction management). This competition is organized in a way that allows participating students to also attend the Career Fair.
Watch the video for more information.
Capstone-Eligible Competitions (CMGT 4861)
The following competitions are eligible to fulfill the CMGT 4861 Capstone project requirements. Students are still required to take the seminar portion of the course, but the final project is waived with successful and verified participation in these competitions.
Ryan Companies Pursuit Competition
Originally part of the Construct*ium Pentathlon, Ryan Companies now sponsors this as a separate competition. Participating schools from within the Construct*ium league start by hosting an internal competition to determine which of their teams will go to the competition. The selected teams—one from each school—then submit professional proposals to build a real project, applying their estimating, scheduling, work site planning, and written and oral presentation skills.
A panel of industry professionals judges both written and oral proposals in mid-April. Highly competitive, this competition is as real as it gets. The University of Minnesota has won three times!
National Renewable Energy Labs (NREL) - Solar Decathlon
The University of Minnesota has been a dominant force over the years in this international competition. The requirements change a bit every year, as established by NREL. This is typically a design competition that requires a full delivery of a project including design parameters, energy modeling, cost, schedules, and workflows. The projects are submitted and formally presented to NREL judges for determination of a winner, often at the NREL site in Golden, Colorado. In 2008, the University took 5th place overall internationally, and has had several first-place finishes within select categories.
In 2023, two U of M teams fared very well, with seven CMGt students. The Multifamily Division team was awarded Second Place, and the Attached Housing Division won first place in its division, and then, after a quick preparation, competed in the Grand Championship round and took top honors.
Students start to craft their project summary as a team during fall semester, then complete all the design, research, and final proposal documentation during spring term. Semi-finalists present in February, and finalists in April.
National Association of Homebuilders (NAHB) Competition
Sponsored by a leading professional society dedicated to quality homebuilding, the NAHB Competition challenges students to design a residential community on an existing site. Part real estate development, part product response, the teams of five or six students develop a community plan, housing model types, overall project costs, and schedule and workflows, as well as a full economic proforma determining return on investment. The proposals are then presented to a corporate leadership team to determine whether they would invest their resources to develop the sites. The competition typically takes place in person at the International Builders’ Show, a premier event showcasing all things residential.
When building your team, consider including someone with architectural skills (e.g. planning) along with people who have construction management and project management skills. At least one team member should be interested in the financial modeling of the project, the tools for which are provided by NAHB. The University of Minnesota has placed as low as 11th in this competition, and in their inaugural year (2016) were awarded Rookie of the Year, with a 12th place finish overall.
Registration is due October. Proposals are developed over the Fall semester, submitted in December, and presented in late January.
Chartered Institute of Building (CIOB) Global Student Challenge Competition
The CIOB is based in the UK and hosts an international construction business management competition using game theory. It starts with a practice run for a few weeks, followed by eight weeks of competition, wherein teams of four students develop solutions to the business criteria given to them by the organizers. The object of the competition is to balance resources—people, money, projects—to optimize the organization’s economics while also dealing with setbacks along the way. While the competition applies UK-based business metrics and terminology, it is not so different in principle that US students cannot succeed. CCAPS students have competed since 2018 and we’re one of 40–50 international teams that participate annually; in 2022 the Gophers made it to the finals and took fifth place overall.
This competition aligns well with the Capstone course timing. The top five teams compete in the finals in June. In pre-COVID times, the teams were flown to a CIOB region for a face-to-face final event.
Registration is due in January.
National Association of Industrial and Office Parks (NAIOP) Student Competition
Led by Paula Pentel of the Urban Studies program in the Humphrey Institute, the University assembles an interdisciplinary team of students from Urban Studies, Architecture, Carlson Finance, and Construction Management to develop a real estate solution on an actual property. CMgt students are responsible for developing project costs, schedules and site logistics, and assist in suggesting building systems. The team crafts a formal proposal and presents it to a panel of real estate professionals in April. While the University doesn’t have a real estate program, we have been very successful in this regional competition over the years.
Roofing Alliance (RA) Construction Management Student Competition
Sponsored since 2014 by the National Roofing Contractors Association (NRCA), this national competition requires students to submit a formal proposal to re-roof an actual large, complicated structure located in the city of their national conference. Due in November each year, the team of three to five students focus on costs as well as safety, quality, site logistics, etc., for a complete planning effort. The top five teams from this national pool travel to the convention in March to compete live. The University of Minnesota has never competed in this competition, but we have companies on our advisory board that can be tapped to help mentor the team’s proposal. Registration is due in September.
For more information, see this video from the Roofing Alliance
Associated Schools of Construction (ASC) - Region 4 Competition
As a member of the midwest Region 4, the University of Minnesota is eligible to compete in this intense, short-term competition that happens over a four-day weekend in late October at a conference hotel in Nebraska. Teams are given the problem statement and then sequestered to craft a design-and-build proposal in one of several different categories, typically managed by a corporate sponsor, including heavy civil, commercial (two divisions), design build, and specialty contracting. The proposals are then judged late in the weekend before students return to their campuses.
The University of Minnesota has never competed here, typically due to conflicts in the Fall semester. However, since it takes place over a short timeframe, it is over and done with relatively quickly. This competition is for advanced students who are close to graduating.
Get involved in one of the many industry-related student groups on campus. These groups provide links to experiences, guest speakers, and discussion with like-minded students.
Locate professional associations related to your major or career interests by conducting a Google Search on “(Name of major/career area/industry) professional associations.”
Try keywords like construction, management, residential, commercial, independent contractors, project management, etc. Here's a sample:
- Associated General Contractors of MN
- Associated Builders and Contractors
- Builders Association of MN
- International Facility Management Association - Minneapolis
- Building Owners and Managers Association
- Design-Build Institute of America
- Construction Management Association of America
- National Association of Home Builders
- National Association of Remodeling Industry
- Construction Marketing Association
- Minnesota Construction Association