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Meet our future builders

Shelby County High School team wins first in national construction competition

The yearly competition problem from the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) arrived as usual in mid-September at Shelby County High School (SCHS) as well as high schools and two-year colleges across the country. In February, SCHS teacher Walt Wilson and his students found out that they had won first place in the construction management category of the NAHB International Student Competition for secondary schools.

In between, students Abel Lopez, Kara Phillips, Nathan Pulliam, Jackie Romo and Jacob Smith as well as Wilson and advisor Perry Lyons of P.L. Lyons Architectural Builders worked almost every Thursday night to answer the competition problem: How much would you charge to build the house pictured here, and why should we choose you to build it?

“We had to devise a construction management plan to build a house with the exact footprint (size and shape) they gave us,” says Wilson, who joyfully oversees the process. “This year we had to create drawings and our own specifications.”

As “employees” of mythical Rocket Construction, the students created a three-ring binder that detailed everything—drawings, material and labor estimates, as well as a construction schedule that adhered to the constraints, building codes and design criteria of a real-world development project. The students then pitched and defended their proposal to a team of judges during the competition, making a case for why they should be chosen as the project contractor.

“The kids get so much out of this because it is as close as you can get to a real-world problem,” Wilson says. “It is project-based learning, and it is the best way to learn. You can see the students’ maturity levels change.”

For Rocket Construction President and SCHS senior Jackie Romo, the best part of the experience was meeting actual contractors and learning about different aspects of the construction industry. “I also liked experiencing what it is like to be put on the spot during the live aspect of the competition,” says Romo.

“We are tremendously proud of the students, Walt Wilson, and Perry Lyons for their hard work on this project,” says Juva Barber, executive vice president of the Building Industry Association of Greater Louisville. “They are certainly the future of the building industry, and we look forward to watching their contributions in the future.”

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