By: Megan Rajner | BSA '18
As we left the show, I remember thinking to myself “this was all so worth it.”
This January at Wentworth, I, along with seven members of our National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) student chapter, took on a challenging project called the Residential Construction Management Competition. Our delivery of a hypothetical redevelopment project required written proposal as well as a presentation overview at the Internationals Builder’s show in Orlando, Florida. Our interdisciplinary team spent about two months trying to meet every Wednesday during the Fall semester to “redevelop” a 32-acre lot of 336 existing residential units in the city of Decatur, Georgia. While each of us had our own individual tasks to execute, the true challenge was learning how to harness our different majors and strengths to work collaboratively. Our final project was judged not only on economic efficiency, but also on efficient construction management practices, aesthetics of the new and/or renovated residences, and green design initiatives. Considering some of the other competing institutions have credit-fulfilling courses just to prepare for this competition, we did not rank as highly as we could have if we had spent more time on the project. However, this only left us more encouraged to learn from our experience and try again next year.
The Residential Construction Management Competition was only a small part of the International Builders Show as a whole. I was in awe of the two full wings of the Orange County Convention Center that were packed with booths, models, and representatives that displayed all types of residential design products. Surprised by how willing the representatives were to teach us about the products, I was riveted by seeing everything first hand while making connections with professionals in the residential design field. As busy as it was, we were somehow still able to catch a quick glimpse of HGTV stars Jonathan and Drew Scott!
The educational benefits of our interdisciplinary team extended far beyond the formal competition. While wandering the convention hall with another member of our team, a construction management major, I discovered just how much we stand to learn from each other. As he taught me about the wonders of Tyvek weather barriers and thermal bridging, I explained the connections between design, human psychology, and the environment to him. This experience, the exchange of knowledge and studies with each other, was simply invaluable.
As the current president of our NAHB student chapter, it was so gratifying to see the other members enjoying this experience as much as I did. Each member of our group was grateful to experience this entire gallery of residential home design. Given what it took to finally complete the project, as well as plan our adventure to Orlando, the entire experience ended up being much more than we could have expected.
Events like the IBS benefit more than just the students on the trip. We are bringing back knowledge and experiences from this trip to share with our peers through coursework and simple conversation. It will enable us to teach others about what we learned, within the Wentworth community and even in our future work environments. Personally working on the green initiatives portion of the project encouraged me to take the LEED Green Associate exam, and learn even further about sustainable systems, which I hope to share with others.
Giving students opportunities like the ones our NAHB chapter had in Orlando is so crucial, especially in an age when young professionals are constantly in competition with others of similar backgrounds and knowledge. Being able to interact, network, experience first-hand, and learn at the same time the way we did at IBS will help spread the same involvement in many areas of our lives. It has helped us grow more dynamically in our professional surroundings, and benefitted us in more ways than we could have even imagined.