WSU News

WSU students win national design-build contest


WSU students and advisors accept award at Design-Build Institute of America competition. (l-r) David Gunderson, WSU faculty advisor and coach, Erika Weir, Nicole Johnson (captain), Josh Thomson, Ryan Garris, and Robert Nartonis, DBIA board chairman and senior vice president with M.A. Mortenson Company.

PULLMAN, Wash. – A team of Washington State University construction management students earned first place in the Design-Build Institute of America’s first national student competition.

“The construction industry views these competitions as the closest thing to real-life experience that students can get,” said David Gunderson, the team’s advisor and associate professor of construction management.

The team presented its final proposal at the 2012 Design-Build Conference and Expo in New Orleans on Nov. 8. The winners were announced Nov. 9.

DBIA is a national organization that promotes the integration of design and construction industries to more effectively carry out high-performance projects.

The competition is composed of a request for qualifications (RFQ) and a request for proposal (RFP), which are steps taken by industry practitioners to bid on construction projects.

The WSU team, called Affinity Constructors, included four students: Nicole Johnson, Erika Wier, Ryan Garris and Josh Thomson. Thomson is also an architecture graduate student, was the lead designer.

The DBIA distributed the RFQ phase in September. Students had 1½ weeks to develop a fictitious company and a structure that the company needed built.

Students compiled a 30-page report detailing the company’s background and the construction team’s qualifications for the project.

“As part of this team, I gained a deeper understanding of the design-build process and the level of collaboration involved,” said Johnson, the team captain.
Twenty-seven teams from twenty universities submitted RFQs, and the WSU team was one of three selected to move on to phase two.

The second phase began in October. Teams had one week to respond to the RFP issued by DBIA. This phase required a design plan, schedule and cost estimates for a fictitious $29 million performing arts center.

“It has been exciting to put things we’ve learned into action in a real-world scenario,” Johnson said.