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University of Arkansas at Little Rock

Construction Team Places 2nd in Region

A team of six UALR Construction Management students finished second in a recent competition sponsored by the Associated Schools of Construction Region V and TEXO, the Construction Association, represented by the Dallas/Fort Worth Association for Associated General Contractors (AGC) and Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC). The event was held in Dallas.

The UALR team, which won $750 for its second-place finish, included Mark Gernhart of Osceola, captain and project manager; Stephanie Shank of Miami, project scheduling; Dustin Mize of Greenbrier, contract questions; and Chris Meyer of Sherwood, Josh Morris of Little Rock, and Ross Lovenstein of Sherwood, estimating. Larry Blackmon, adjunct instructor, served as the team’s coach. Mike Tramel, department chairman, was the sponsor.

While UALR finished second to Oklahoma State among the eight teams in the competition, the Trojan team easily won the estimating component; its bid of $98,741,435.70 was only $197,594.30 – or 2 percent – off the actual project bid of $98,939,030. Oklahoma State’s team was next closest, off by more than $4 million, and the Texas A&M team, last in that aspect of the competition, missed the bid by more than $51.6 million.

The University of Oklahoma team finished third in the competition; other universities represented were North Texas, Texas Tech, Louisiana-Monroe, and Louisiana Tech.

“The only reason why UALR finished second was because the team was 30 seconds under on the 15-minute presentation,” Tramel said.

The contest format included the 15-minute presentation followed by 15 minutes of questions from representatives of McCarthy Building Companies, the Texas contractor that sponsored the competition. McCarthy Building provided the panel of judges and built the project that was the subject of the competition – an expansion of a wharf for the Houston Port Authority and consisted of concrete piers that had to be placed underwater and a concrete deck placed on top of the piers.

The project had to be scheduled and completed in 600 days. The project required 17 cranes with most of them placed on barges to allow construction to be completed in the required time frame.

Blackmon drove the UALR team to Dallas on Saturday, Feb. 19, and the competition began early Sunday, Feb. 20. The team was locked in a hotel room from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday and did not have any outside contact for the 16-hour period they worked on the problem.

McCarthy supplied food and would send them information by phone on subcontracting prices and changes, following up to inspect the team to check for compliance.

The UALR team’s hotel rooms, transportation costs, and other food expenses were funded by the Arkansas Associated General Contractors’ Highway Committee.