An Oklahoma team has won the first ever Construction Challenge held at the recently concluded CONEXPO-CON/AGG 2008 trade show in Las Vegas, USA. Teams from Illinois, New Jersey, Ohio, and Texas also took home top honors in the teen competition, which was initiated by the Association of Equipment Manufacturers (AEM).
Perry Public Schools, Perry, Okla., sponsored by Ditch Witch took first place. The team also won 1st place in the Road Warrior challenge.
More than 50 student teams competed at the event, held March 11–13, 2008, at the Las Vegas Convention Center. The teams built pieces of "construction equipment," debated other teams on infrastructure issues, and created interactive educational products to help spread the word about construction careers and equipment.
First place went to a team from Perry High School in Perry, Oklahoma. Team members were Amy Bieberdorf, Kelsey Cave, Evan Williams, Cassandra Bratcher, Daniel Cross, Dakota Johnson, and Trevor Kukuk.
The group's teamwork during the Road Warrior challenge — with self-built "construction equipment" — impressed judges, competitors and onlookers. Each team member won a $2,000 scholarship and a computer.
"Lots of hard work paid off," team member Evan Williams said.
"We learned time management and problem-solving skills, and we logged lots of hours after school to get ready," added team member Kelsey Cave.
The team's manager, technical education teacher Jeff Zagar, said, "We built the whole [Road Warrior] course at school so the team could walk in feeling confident and prepared. We logged out hours and each team member an average of 112 hours in prep time."
The construction industry will create more than 1 million new jobs by 2012, but currently there are not enough skilled workers to fill all the jobs. AEM, in partnership with Destination
ImagiNation, Inc., initiated the Construction Challenge specifically to engage the interest of teens in careers in the industry through a hands-on, educational experience. The Construction Challenge offered a chance for students, teachers, parents, and community leaders to learn more about this growing industry. They also learned about the industry's need for skilled employees to deal with infrastructure problems of crumbling bridges, overcrowded roadways, and aging water and wastewater systems.
"The response that these students have gotten is better than we dreamed of when we started this project 17 months ago," said Al Cervero, senior vice president at AEM. "Not only were CONEXPO-CON/AGG attendees checking out the challenges, they were talking about the need to increase awareness of the industry and the great jobs that are available. They were stunned by the creativity and knowledge on display this week by all of the teams."