Construction Management Student wins Kiewit/NECA Sophomore Scholarship for the ASC Competition

Wyatt Bisballe (second from left) is a Michigan Tech Construction Management sophomore.
Wyatt Bisballe (second from left) is a Michigan Tech Construction Management sophomore.

Wyatt Bisballe, a sophomore in Construction Management, was given the opportunity to attend a two day workshop at the 2020 Region #3 Associated Schools of Construction (ASC) competition October 14-17 in Downers Grove, Illinois by winnig a Kiewit/NECA Sophomore Scholarship.

Wyatt submitted the following report to document his experience:

The ASC Region 3 Sophomore Summit was no doubt a positive experience that gave an impression into what the future holds for those studying Construction Management, or similar.

Day one was sponsored by Kiewit. Kiewit is a design-build employee-owned corporation, that in 2018 allocated nearly $9 billion in revenue. Courtesy of Kiewit, we were able to tour an active construction site, that consisted of replacing an existing dam. A challenge on this project was unsurprisingly the government. This dam project was awarded by The Illinois Department of Natural Resources. One year into the project, the State of Illinois did not pass the state budget and ordered all construction on the dam to be immediately halted until the budget was passed. Now that they are back to work on the project, a current challenge is not interrupting water flow. If too much water flow is interrupted, homes on the nearby lake will be flooded.

After touring the dam project, we were taxied to Kiewit’s Chicago headquarters. The networking that can be done by attending this event is second-to-none. After being given a brief presentation on Kiewit, we were given a mock-bid exercise that needed to be completed within four hours. The bid was on the dam we had toured. Reading through the material, you would notice, for example, that the concrete quantity had not counted for Pier 3 of the dam. Or that the labor and time could be saved by not self-performing the gate installation, and that if you were going to adjust concrete, adjusting rebar would also be in your best interest. The main challenge for my group was to choose subcontractors that would meet Chicago’s Disadvantaged Business Requirement (DBE). After spending time at Kiewit’s headquarters, we went bowling, and I am extremely grateful that I am better and calculating cubic yards of concrete than bowling.

The second day of the sophomore summit was sponsored by NECA. The National Electrical Contractors Association. Throughout the day, we were accompanied by industry representatives, from NECA, from individual companies, and company owners. They were always open to questions, and many were interested in hosting interns. We started with a site tour, which took us to a massive project at O’Hare International Airport. This project consisted of multiple contractors and highlighted the replacement and modernization of the ATS (Airport Transit System) and the construction of a new terminal. The main challenge that was highlighted by each representative hosting the tour, was the coordination of construction with the airport. Any delays in airport activities due to construction would result in a fine of $20,000 per minute. To combat this, many prefabrication was done off-site. For example, the planning and prefabrication for laying conduit along the ATS route took six-months. The act itself only took one week. This tour exhibited the challenges around such a large, yet a needlingly small footprint that certain projects require.

After touring O’Hare, we traveled to Preferred Electric, a Chicago-land electrical contractor. Here, we toured the office. We were then presented with another mock-bid challenge. Calculate power demanded, calculate solar panels needed to reach that demand, calculate labor to install the panels, then find a subcontractor to prepare the site, etc. We ended our day by going go-kart racing with electric go-karts. I had not raced electric go-karts until this point, but I can attest they are fast as hell.

I STRONGLY encourage anyone who wants to network, learn, skip-classes, and engage in the construction industry to attend the ASC event this coming year. Whether it be the Freshman Summit, the Sophomore Summit, or the competition itself. In all, I learned plenty, but most of all came away with a desire and motivation to learn more in the construction industry and to eventually be part of the process of completing such projects.


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