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NMJC Architectural Design Students Place in National Competition

NMJC Architectural Design Students Place in National Competition photo 1/30/2009 7:45:20 a.m. - Hobbs, NM. When four New Mexico Junior College students joined the CIA last fall, the last thing they were expecting was national recognition.

In October 2008, NMJC's Architectural/Drafting Technology program implemented a new student organization -- the Construction/Interior design/Architecture club -- also known as the CIA club.

Under the direction and sponsorship of Professor Michael Henderson, the new student club was designed to enhance and enrich the academic experience of students interested in his Architectural/Drafting Technology program. The charter group was comprised of three NMJC students, Kristie Asel, Tammy Brown, and Marcus Trusty, as well as a Hobbs High School senior, Josh Moreno.

The group's first project was to become a student chapter of the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB). They then signed up for the Residential Construction Management Competition, which takes place annually in conjunction with the world-renowned NAHB International Builders' Show. The yearly competition held there gives students the opportunity to apply the skills they've learned in the classroom to a real construction project. It also exposes them to some of the world's newest and most amazing construction technology and products.

During the fall of 2008, NMJC's chapter and the other participating teams were given a problem for which they had to devise solutions entirely on their own -- with no technical assistance from their instructors or sponsors -- and submit them to judges by mid-December.

The problem that the participating teams were required to solve this year was fairly straightforward. Each team was to represent a fictitious company that had been chosen by Centex Homes, the nation's largest home builder and one of the major sponsors of the event, to develop a complete set of working drawings, such as elevations, floor plans, and a foundation plan, and to create a detailed materials cost estimate and a complete construction schedule for a model home in the San Antonio, Texas, area. While instructors and team coaches were not allowed to help their teams research or solve problems in any way, they could provide basic direction. All work was to be done by the students themselves.

On January 19, approximately 3000 students from secondary, two-year, and four-year schools across the nation gathered for the competition in Las Vegas, Nevada. Each participating team provided a 10-minute oral presentation and then defended their solutions during timed, 10-minute Q&A sessions from a panel of construction company executives, who acted as judges. Winners were then announced at an awards ceremony on January 21.

Because most teams began work on their projects in August as soon as the school year began, NMJC's CIA group was at a distinct disadvantage since it was only formed in
October. In spite of their competition's two-month head start, the team managed to earn an impressive 15th place win nationally, competing with teams from such schools as Brigham Young University-Idaho, Purdue University-North Central and Calumet, Texas A&M, and numerous others from across the U.S., with one school coming from as far away as Alaska. NMJC was the only school to compete from New Mexico.

Henderson was understandably proud of his team. "They did a great job," he said. "Each team member brought something important to the competition. It was the first time some of them had ever given a presentation like this, but they did well. And I think they took away something important, too. It's an invaluable experience to stand up and present something like this at a national competition, and you never forget it."

Henderson should know. He was part of a Brigham Young -- Idaho competition team that placed 4th in 2000 and walked away with the national championship in 2001. While he's served as assistant coach since then, this is his first year to single-handedly coach a team. And while it was NMJC's first year ever to send a team, it won't be the last. "We'll definitely be competing next year," said Henderson.

Marcus Trusty of Hobbs, one of the two team members who will be returning as a competitor next year, said the experience was invaluable. "To get up in front of a panel of judges like that and have to present our project was difficult, even frightening, but I would do it again. This has taught me a few things about myself as well, such as now I'll come to class with more confidence in myself, knowing that I can do my part as a contributing member of a team," he said. "I also know I'll apply myself more to each project and to each class. This whole experience has confirmed that architecture is the direction I want to go."

Dr. Mary Jane Ward, Dean of Careers & Technology, the division in which Henderson's program resides, was possibly the proudest of all. "Michael Henderson has done a phenomenal job organizing this chapter, preparing the team, and setting such high standards for the competition. I'm really proud of the entire team. They've represented New Mexico Junior College extremely well."

Not bad for four previously unknown members of the CIA. Not bad at all.

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