Student bid competition seen as stepping stone

As Originally Seen in the Daily Commercial News :

The Construction Institute of Canada's (TCIC) 2016 Simulated Student Bid Competition is taking off, with teams across Canada participating and some new elements being added to the challenge.

According to Justin Babcock, the executive director for this year's competition and student estimator at Bird, 70 teams from seven schools across the country have signed on, with a total of around 250 student competitors involved.

"I think there's definitely some teams that are excited," he says. "It's great for all the construction companies to see such a powerful competition for young students coming up in the industry. We are going to be the next people in the industry. There are a lot of new hires going into these companies that are coming from this competition."

The bid competition encourages students to tackle the construction bidding and estimating process. Teams submit complete bids based on a set of contract documents, which must contain quantity take-offs, a sub-trade analysis and selection, as well as an overhead and pricing summary.

Last year eight schools, six construction associations, 67 teams and 252 students took part.

"What makes the bid competition so successful from my perspective is participation," said John Mollenhauer, vice-chancellor of the TCIC and president of the Toronto Construction Association in a video describing the event.

"It isn't just about the participation of the students, which is growing exponentially, it's the participation of industry, it's the collaboration of industry working in concert with educators to better prepare students for the working world when they graduate."

Third- and fourth-year students take part in the challenge with participants of the competition comprised of third-year students in an estimating team. Fourth-year students facilitate the competition.

Bids are judged on the most outstanding professional conduct, most accurate and complete bid package, and closest to the target price. The top teams receive cash prizes.

This year, there is a new award for students to strive for: the Building Information Modeling (BIM) and Innovation Award, which comes with a $500 prize, Babcock says.

"We know that the industry is pushing to BIM, so we wanted to incorporate that," he explains. "We are trying to mirror the industry more and more."

Babcock knows firsthand how the bid competition works as his team from George Brown College took home the $2,000 first-place prize for Most Accurate and Complete Bid last year.

"Just going through the process and understanding how the actual industry is being mirrored in this competition is the biggest thing," he explains, adding he is currently in his final year of construction management at George Brown and is also working for Bird Construction as a student estimator. "I have definitely seen a lot of these processes that we're doing in the competition. It's completely relevant. They're learning something new that they wouldn't have learned if they didn't do it."

Teams taking part must also have a mentor from the construction industry who acts as an advisor. Last year 59 mentors helped students with their bids. Teams must obtain their mentor and email a signed "Mentor Declaration Form" by Tuesday, Feb. 16.

Continuing the same trend as last year, a two-stage bidding process will occur. Stage one, the electronic tender submission, is due March 30 and stage two, the hardcopy tender submission, is due March 31. Deadlines vary by time zone; more information can be found on at

The project that students are to conduct the simulated bid on this year is the Thompson Rivers University: Brown Family House of Learning, which was designed by Diamond Schmitt Architects in a joint venture with David Nairne and Associates. Located in Kamloops, B.C., the 77,000-square-foot facility was completed in 2011 and features design elements inspired by First Nations dwellings and crafts. The facility is LEED Gold and includes a research library, learning commons, classrooms and instructional labs, faculty offices, flexible meeting rooms, a gallery and cafe.

"It's something that I think is going to inspire the students," Babcock says. "Predominately, it's a concrete structure, essentially with glazing, with some very high-end finishes. I think the actual take-offs are going to be challenging for students and teach them something new."

It's what the competition is all about, he states, adding it's also about meeting new people and making inroads with those in the industry.

"With this bid competition, the access to the industry is great. The exposure for students to potential employers is one of the biggest things this competition provides. The networking opportunities are ample."

The awards gala is slated to take place April 12.
Student Bid Competition Seen As Stepping Stone : News & Media : Bird Construction