How to compete in an industry competition

Here at BCU, we encourage our students to take advantage of any extra-curricular activities such as international competitions. Recently, an all-female team comprising three Built Environment students won the Associated Schools of Construction (ASC) Region 5 International Design Build Student Competition. 

The competition involved a week of preparation prior to the contest itself and was sponsored by US construction companies Texo and Beck Group. Students were tasked to come up with a proposal for the professional design and construction of the Eagle Ford Natural Sciences Museum in Texas.

Taking part in international, industry-sponsored competitions means students have the chance to develop their personal and professional skill set. We spoke with the winners, Jessica Smith, a Construction Management student and Quantity Surveying students Jenny Boulton and Katie Kay to find out more about how they got involved, what they did at the competition and what they learnt by taking part. 

What work did you produce for the competition and why do you think you won?

Jess: I was given the role of 'Superintendent', which is the US version of a Project Manager. I was responsible for making sure our proposal was buildable and for considering the specific site constraints. Once we had individually digested the information provided for the brief we then met as a group where we distributed a number of actions for each team member. As a team, our communication was constantly flowing and we worked well together.

How to compete in an industry competition On presentation day, it became clear that we had a bond which far outweighed any other team. As we rode the bus to the presentation venue, we were chatting and laughing all the way, whilst other teams sat in silence. This bond gave us an edge over other teams as we presented as a single unit rather than a group of individuals.

We won because we had a great team and each member had a clear role. We worked really well as a team and generally stayed calm and collected, despite the intense and tiring conditions, and this is why we were successful. 

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Any tips for other students on how they can get involved in international competitions?

Jess: Firstly, just go for it! When I applied I didn't think for a second that I would actually be chosen for it, but I did and we won. Now, we all have international experience and contacts. Secondly, show an interest. BCU and their sponsors are looking to take people who bring value and could be potential candidates for a job after graduation. Finally, if you make it, be open and get to know your team. As a team we were all willing to get to know each other and that made all the difference when it came to crunch time.

What do you think was the most valuable lesson you learnt from the experience?

Jess: Competing in the International Design Build Competition was an amazing experience. Whilst it was incredibly intense, I was fortunate to work with some talented people and have learnt a lot throughout my involvement that will stay with me into my career.

Jen: I learnt to not doubt myself. Before the competition started I was filled with dread. Thinking to myself I am not good enough to do this, it’s too hard. Then I realised I was chosen to do this for a reason. So I took a deep breath, a sip of coffee and marched on with my costings.

Katie: Get involved and remember to enjoy it. This was my second competition with BCU & Auburn University however nothing could prepare me for this! Once the initial panic had gone my drive to win took over and I couldn’t be happier to have shared this experience with such hard-working, inspiring women.

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