Orange County Branch Newsletter

September 2015

Construction Institute

Student Days

By Gary Gilbert with assitance from Amber Falk, Chloe Gharios, Jesus Velazquez, and Cody Dodge
The ASCE Orange County Branch's Construction Institute (CI -OC), lead by Amber Falk, assisted the ASCE/Construction Institute (CI) with the hosting of CI's Student Days in Costa Mesa, California, July 31-August 4.  Thirty Civil Engineering students from universities across the U.S. were given the unique challenge or competing in teams to produce the best bid for a city's request for proposal (RFP) to construct new seawalls as part of the CI's Student Days competition Each year students are selected through a competitive application process to participate, bringing top engineering students from across the country together to work in teams with students they've never met before on a "real-life" construction challenge.  This year three students were selected from our local universities - two from California State Univerity, Fullerton and one from California State University, Long Beach. 
For the CI Heavy Civil Engineering Team Challenge, students were split into six teams to create a bid package for a real-world construction job – Naples Island Permanent Seawall Repairs, and present their proposal to construction professionals.  Events during the competition also included a site tour of the Gerald Desmond Bridge Replacement Project at the Port of Long Beach, "real world engineering" sessions, a sand castle team building event at Newport Beach, and CI's signature event, Speed Networking!
The Student Days program, now in its seventh year, provides future civil engineers an opportunity to gain team building skills and to work on a real engineering construction problem under the careful guidance of ASCE/CI leaders and mentors. Another clear priority is to expose students to the true value of an ASCE membership by working directly with ASCE members and learning how ASCE has helped these seasoned engineers throughout their careers.
I was able to attend a networking event on the Sunday, August 3rd, which provided me the opportunity to talk to most of the students that attended the event.  I learned that our own Eric Walker has a hobby for creating sandcastles and lead a sandcastle competition as part of the CI's Student Days.  I was impressed by the questions from the students about what working in the profession of Civil Engineering will consist of and many asked for the professionals to share their career experiences so they can learn how to be successful in profession.  I asked the three students from Orange County schools (Chloe Gharios, Jesus Velazquez, and Cody Dodge) to share something about their experience during the event and their short articles are provided below.  I want to thank Amber Falk for her hard work in making the event successful.  For more information about the event, please read this excellent summary of the event


Chloe Gharios  from California State University, Fullerton

On July 31st through August 4th the Construction Institute of ASCE held a “Student Days” Conference in Costa Mesa, California and it was a great experience. They selected 30 students from around the United States to come take part in the conference and student competition. The competition was to put together a full bid for the construction of a seawall in Long Beach. It was an amazing and hands on way to learn all about putting together cost estimates, schedules, risk analysis, and how to handle those always exciting change orders from your client. The conference was invaluable as it taught the students a vast amount of knowledge about the construction industry while putting us in some of the real life and most stressful situations. Aside from the competition, the conference offered some fun with a sandcastle competition down in Newport Beach. It was great to see how extremely excited most of the participants were for this portion, due to the fact that all but three of us were not from California. We also got a great opportunity to network and ask questions of many different professionals in the field of construction. All in all, the Construction Institute “Student Days” was an invaluable experience, and I am so grateful to have been given the chance to learn and grow within my chosen field and profession.

Jesus Velazquez for California State University, Fullerton

On July 31st I attended Student Days held by the construction institute along with 29 other students from around the nation. Prior to arriving to this competition we were paired up in teams of five in order to compete in a surprise challenge. On the first day of the conference we were paired up with our groups and introduce to our challenge. The challenge was to form a complete bid package based on their criteria and existing design and then present it in front of a panel of judges on August 3rd. We were given timeslots to work on during each day but they were simply not enough time for any of the teams. Many of the teams including ours would only get a few hours of sleep at night because we would be working on the challenge. Although the conference was a lot of hard work there was some time for fun. On the second day we had a team work challenge were we all went to Newport Beach and each team built a sand castle. The winners were awarded gift cards and we were then given a couple hours of free time at the beach. We had a lot of networking opportunities such as multiple presentations by professionals and we were able to interact with many professionals a speed networking event. On Monday we had a tour of the Gerald Desmond Bridge and we were able to see a lot of what goes into the construction of a bridge. Later that day we had our presentations for our challenge. They randomly selected the order of presenters and one by one every team did a 25 minute presentation. All the teams decided to have a little celebration and decided to go to Huntington Beach for a bonfire since we could no longer affect the outcome. The next morning the winners were announced at our final breakfast and the winner was JES, my team. We were all very excited and were asked to go to the front and were later interviewed. Overall this was a great experience as I was able to network, learn, and even win $500.

Cody Dodge from California State University, Long Beach

I stumbled upon the Construction Institute's Student Days application while researching how ASCE integrates the construction industry into the scope of civil engineering because I am interested in pursuing that line of work. It was by this path that I learned more about the Construction Institute and applied for the Student Days. I was ecstatic to be selected to attend and get to use some of the experience I have gained through my internship with Traylor Bros Inc. while working on the Regional Connector Transit Corridor Project in Downtown LA where we are building a new subway line.

There were 30 students total and I was privileged to be selected as 1 of 6 team captains. When we arrived Friday, we were given the project we were going to bid, present and create a proposal for which was the Naples Seawall Project and the documents were due first thing Monday morning before we left for our technical tour of the new Gerald Desmond Bridge Project. This made for late nights, long hours and lots of crash-course learning over the next 2 days. Also on our itinerary was informative technical presentations by professionals on Friday and a team building event on Saturday morning at the beach where we built sand castles. Sunday evening we participated in a speed networking event with professionals where we were able to get career tips and other advice from professionals.

Monday afternoon after our technical tour we gave presentations on our bid and proposal. The winner was announced Tuesday morning at breakfast. My team took 2nd Place and I was 1 of 4 students at the Student Days awarded an Outstanding Student Award. As a prize for my award the Construction Institute will be helping with costs for me to be able to attend the Construction Institute Summit in Orlando, FL over 3 days in March of 2016. It was a very rewarding experience and I cherish the friendships and connections that were made. I would like to thank ASCE for making it possible for students to have these amazing experiences by putting on these types of events.