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OCA Estimating Competition Event Continues Strengthening Relationships Among OCA, Members, Industry, Universities, Future Workforce

It’s a marriage that is getting STRONGER every year. Youngstown State University Associate Professor Joe Sanson said the relationship built between universities and heavy/highway contractors largely centers on the OCA Estimating Competition – which in 2024 celebrated its 23rd anniversary. “Without OCA, I would have never met Beaver Excavating Company, or (Team Advisors) Ryan Pepper or Joe Brown. (OCA) married the schools and contractors together,” said Sanson. Beaver Excavating was one of 11 OCA member companies assisting this year’s student competitors prepare for the 2024 competition, held February 9 & 10 at the Nationwide Hotel & Conference Center north of Columbus.

Building on the success of its third-place finish in 2023, the University of Akron bested this year’s 10-school competition to win its record fifth OCA Estimating Competition team title. Other universities competing this year were Bowling Green State (BGSU), Case Western Reserve, Cincinnati, Cleveland State, Kent State, Ohio Northern, Ohio, Ohio State, and Youngstown State (YSU).

The OCA Estimating Competition is a two-day event for Ohio colleges offering engineering and/or construction management programs. The Friday-Saturday competition has each school, consisting of six-student teams, receive a packet consisting of project plans, a partially completed bid worksheet and labor and equipment rates on the opening morning. The students are then tasked with an approximately eight-hour time constraint to perform the project’s take-off, describe the construction method, price individual work items, schedule specific activities, etc. – along with answering questions drawn from project documents. At “bid time,” the teams’ materials are submitted to judges.

miller bros. const.

On Saturday’s second day of the competition, each team provides a 30-minute Oral Presentation to the judges that showcases the students’ knowledge of the project and how and why certain procedures were utilized to construct the project. The University of Akron team of seniors Kailee Gorezyca, Hayden Heilman, Shane Larkins, Carl Schaub and Jack Weaver and sophomore Ron Tishma received $2,400 for winning the competition, while Case Western Reserve and Ohio Northern received $1,800 and $1,500, respectively, for finishing second and third. All other participating teams received $1,200.

Sanson and BGSU Assistant Professor Linda Beall said the OCA Estimating Competition provides an opportunity for their students to not only become interested in heavy/highway construction but to learn more about the industry through OCA’s members who help prepare the teams for the event. “It is extraordinary the knowledge, the breadth of knowledge, the depth of knowledge, the experience that these outside advisors – coaches if you will – bring to our students,” said Beall.

Sanson, who teaches in YSU’s Computer Science, Information and Construction Technology Department and has taught at YSU for 15 years, and Beall, who is in her third year of teaching in BGSU’s Construction Management Department following 18 years at the University of Toledo, have a combined 24 years of preparing students for the OCA Estimating Competition. While OCA’s competition is one of several estimating events the schools participate in, Sanson and Beall say the OCA Estimating Competition is unique because it features heavy/highway, or horizontal construction, compared to vertical construction.

With OCA members working with the student teams beginning in the fall in preparation for the February competition, Beall said she has seen students evolve beyond project estimating. “They have an extraordinary ability to convey to the students what that experience is like,” she said of the OCA Team Advisors. “Particularly for my seniors, who have questions: ‘What is it really like out there?’ The advisors, the coaches, are able to speak to everything from specific ODOT print reading; to the culture of different offices; to field experiences; just a whole variety of things.”

“A whole variety of things” typically describes the featured project that participants are tasked with each year, and 2024’s project followed suit. This year’s OCA Estimating Competition’s featured project was part of a multi-year corridor project in Northwest Ohio and ODOT District 1 to improve safety and travel along State Route 15 in Hancock County. The 2023 project by Eagle Bridge Company featured the construction of an overpass over S.R. 15 at County Road 180 southeast of Findlay. This project, along with others planned for the four-lane corridor, replaced an at-grade crossing with the overpass. In addition to the removal of the existing intersection, the project consisted of mainline drainage work, accessing more than 80,000 yards of borrow material for the construction of the new overpass that included uniquely designed MSE walls and a new asphalt roadway.

In his presentations to faculty, OCA members, and students, Eagle Bridge Head Estimator Sean Wade provided insight on the featured project’s challenges, which ranged from a tight project schedule and obstacles with the MSE wall design to material delays. “I think it was one of the first times we had students price MSE wall,” he said, adding, “We got it open within one season. With all the different MSE panel issues and delivery delays, and then the structural steel delays, there were definitely some points during the project we thought this was not going to get opened before the asphalt plants closed for the winter.”

This year marked yet another role Wade has filled at the OCA Estimating Competition. A student participant in 2005 and 2006 for the University of Dayton, Wade has served as an OCA Team Advisor for his alma mater for 10 years. This year, Wade assisted the competition’s organizers and judges. He said that while his role as project presenter was different for him, he believes it will benefit him as a Team Advisor. “Being on this end of the stick for the first time was a little different getting to see what items – and getting to pick some of the questions – the judges were asking the teams,” said Wade. “… Helping to gather some of the information for the project was a different experience and a different challenge, but it was kind of fun to know that you have a little control on what problems or challenges the students were going to have to deal with. It was definitely a different perspective seeing the inner workings.”

Wade’s participation in the Estimating Competition is just part of his service to OCA and the industry. As chairman of OCA’s Dayton Chapter, he led the group to the 2023 Chapter of the Year title. Wade was also the recipient of the 2024 OCA Individual Partnering Award announced at this year’s ODOT-OCA Conaway Conference (see page 28).

OCA Director of Member Events David Rule said this year’s event again fulfilled its intended purpose, which is to introduce and strengthen the relationships among the contractors and industry with the universities and students. “This is an introduction to the organization,” he said. “Many of these students end up working for OCA-member companies, and then it’s an added value when they become active in the association.”

Beall referred to the relationship between the heavy/highway construction industry and the state’s universities as cyclical. “We try to improve our students, so they are better employees and (the industry tries) to improve our program in return. So hopefully we’re building for the long term.”

ZIPS TIDE

The University of Akron’s victory at the 2024 OCA Estimating Competition was the Zips second win in three years and a record fifth team victory in the 23rd annual event. Here are the schools, listed alphabetically, and the year(s)* they have won OCA Estimating Competition titles:

– University of Akron – 2024, 2022, 2010, 2009, 2003
– Bowling Green State University – 2004
– Case Western Reserve University – 2023
– University of Cincinnati – 2017, 2013, 2002
– Cleveland State University – 2011, 2005
– University of Dayton – 2020, 2018, 2006, 2001
– Ohio Northern University – 2019, 2008
– Ohio State University – 2015, 2014, 2012, 2007
– University of Toledo – 2016

(Event not held in 2021)

University of Akron

OCA MEMBER PARTICIPATION

The following companies assisted in preparing students for the competition by providing team advisors:

– Barrett Paving
– Beaver Excavating Co.
– E.S. Wagner Co.
– Eagle Bridge Co.
– The Great Lakes Construction Co.
– Independence Excavating Co.
– John R. Jurgensen Co.
– Kokosing Construction Co. Inc.
– The Ruhlin Co.
– Shelly & Sands Inc.
– Vernon Nagel

Competition Organizers:

– Jeremy Angel, The Ruhlin Co.
– Alex Licitri, The Ruhlin Co.
– David Rule, Ohio Contractors Association

Judges:

– Mike Ciammaichella, The Ruhlin Co.
– Blake Dickman, John R. Jurgensen Co.
– Tyler Holden, KT Holden Construction
– Bart Moody, Kokosing Construction Co. Inc.

Moderators/Judges:

– Jeremy Angel, The Ruhlin Co.
– George Palko, The Great Lakes Construction Co.

Project Presenter:

– Sean Wade, Eagle Bridge Co.

Job Fair:

– Beaver Excavating Co.
– E.S. Wagner Co.
– George J. Igel & Co. Inc.
– The Great Lakes Construction Co.
– Independence Excavating Co.
– Karvo Companies Inc.
– Kokosing Construction Co. Inc.
– The Ruhlin Co.

The OCA Estimating Competition is set to return to the Nationwide Hotel & Conference Center for the tenth time in 2025, as the 24th annual event is set for February 9 & 10. If interested

in learning more about the competition or assisting in the event, contact David Rule at drule@ohiocontractors.org.

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