Students make mark in home builders competition

Engineering and business students team up to take third place in national contest

A team of University of Cincinnati students placed third in the National Association of Home Builders competition. Student teams from universities across the country were tasked with creating an in-depth residential construction project proposal which they presented to a panel of judges from the construction industry. 

In just its third year of competing, the UC team rocketed into the top three with its proposal and presentation. The UC team comprised students from majors within UC's College of Engineering and Applied Science and the Carl H. Lindner College of Business as they played the role of a regional home building firm charged with developing a parcel of land into a new residential community in Concord, North Carolina. 

Jordan Payne, an architectural engineering major who will graduate from UC this spring, and Seth Leader, a third-year construction management student, co-led the team of seven. 

The UC NAHB team worked on its project from early October to the submission date in mid-December. Presentations were given virtually in early February. The project incorporated market analysis, product design and selection, construction estimates and schedule, site management and logistics, a financial and risk analysis, and a sales and marketing plan. 

Payne said he was eager to continue with the competition each of the last three years because he’s passionate about the residential construction industry and he wanted to encourage other students to consider a career in that booming industry.

“A lot of the other schools make this competition part of a class and they have all semester to work on it. This was extracurricular for us,” Payne said. “I wanted to put UC on the map, in terms of residential construction, and I believe we’ve at least done that! I’m glad we could create a foundation and example for UC NAHB teams to come.”

Although it was a challenge to work on the team project remotely, Payne said, they did their best to connect for regular virtual meetings. Three of the team members are housemates, which helped with collaboration on parts of the project.  

The NAHB team, Jordan Payne, Michael Salzler, Nolan Conroy, Seth Leader, Jacob Calvert, Alexander Platt and Bryce Lane

The UC NAHB team included students from majors in the College of Engineering and Applied Science and the Lindner College of Business. Photo/provided.

Each competing team is guided by industry experts and the UC team was advised by Fischer Homes. Greg Fischer, chairman of the home building company, encouraged students to enter the contest for the first time in 2017. In addition to supporting UC competition teams like the NAHB team and the New Builder’s Competition, Fischer Homes frequently brings on UC students as co-op employees and has hired many UC alumni. 

“Residential construction is a broad industry covering many disciplines. We hire co-ops and graduates from several of the colleges at UC. We love students who are adaptable and bring energy to our company. Specifically, through UC CEAS, we have found students who want to learn, try new challenges and offer new ideas,” Fischer said. 

Four of the seven UC team members have worked for Fischer Homes as part of the cooperative education (co-op) program and three of the graduating seniors will be joining the company full-time. 

Nolan Conroy, real estate and international business student, was eager to put his knowledge of finance to work on the team and gain more experience relevant to the industry in which he hopes to work.

“The project was a great experience to collaborate with students from diverse backgrounds and majors," Conroy said. "Many of my projects in the business school have been mostly business-related fields. Collaborating with engineers and construction management majors really provided a sense of what to expect on real-life projects.”

Competitions are familiar territory to the students on the UC NAHB team. The Department of Civil and Architectural Engineering and Construction Management at UC has a very active — and frequently lauded — Construction Competition Club

That prior competition experience — and the knowledge gained in related co-ops and classes — helped the team rise to the top. 

“I think our team’s confidence and experience is what made our presentation stand out,” Leader said. “This competition is all about applying what you know, learning, and thinking critically. It gives you something to talk about during a job interview and display your passion. I want to inspire younger students to chase down that first place finish we still have on the table.”

In addition to Payne, Leader and Conroy, the team also included Michael Salzler, construction management ’21; Alexander Platt, construction management ’24; Jacob Calvert, marketing ’21; and Bryce Lane, civil engineering ’23. The team was aided by Amanda Albrecht, advisor for the UC Construction Student Association and assistant dean of academics for the College of Engineering and Applied Science.

Featured image at top: Baldwin Hall on UC's uptown campus. Photo/Corrie Mayer/CEAS Marketing.