ECU students take construction management skills to Vegas


An ECU team from construction management traveled to Las Vegas to participate in the National Association of Home Builders Student Chapters’ Residential Construction Management Competition.


Six construction management students from East Carolina University competed this January in the National Association of Home Builders Student Chapters’ Residential Construction Management Competition in Las Vegas.

The event is part of the annual International Builder’s Show.

To participate, each chapter’s team was asked to design a residential development of a piece of land that spanned 118 acres, and included a portion that was zoned for commercial use. They were asked to develop a plan for acquiring financing to purchase the land, prepare a construction budget and schedule, a marketing and risk analysis and a project site and land development plan. Green building initiatives were also to be considered.

The juniors and seniors representing ECU were Brandon Haddock, Brantlee Jobe, Matthew Lorbacher, Chris Pecorino, Collin Silverthorne, and Kaitlyn Umphlet.

The students spent hundreds of hours during the fall semester – including time during their holiday break – meeting the project guidelines and designing a presentation for the competition. They consulted with a local developer and engineers to get feedback on their proposal.

After arriving in Las Vegas, the team presented their design proposal before a panel of five judges who are currently top contractors and developers from across the nation. Every team member had to speak before the panel.

“It was a great real-world learning experience that you can’t always get in a classroom,” said senior Matthew Lorbacher. “It showed me how competitive it is in this business and how important it is to have every detail correct.”

The ECU team placed 13th out of 31 schools. It was first team to compete for ECU in more than two years.

College of Technology and Computer Science’s industry partner Caterpillar Inc. helped pay for the students’ travel costs. Ron Sessoms, team advisor and teaching instructor in the Department of Construction Management accompanied them on the trip.

“The experience is unbelievable for these students” Sessoms said. “In the designing of the project, they extend the knowledge of what they have learned in the classroom.”

“Competitions are great learning experiences for our students,” agreed Dr. David White, dean of the College of Technology and Computer Science. “We are proud that our team carried on the tradition of excellence and leadership that is associated with construction management at ECU. “

The students did enjoy one day of leisure while in the Las Vegas area. They traveled to see the Hoover Dam – a famous example of a massive construction project.