Student Competition

Colorado State University Team Continues to Compete at High Levels

By Heidi J. Ellsworth, owner, HJE Consulting


For many years, we have been seeing a push to improve the image of roofing and attract the next generation to find a career in roofing. An early visionary who wanted to bring the craft of roofing into construction management programs was Dennis Conway, owner of Commercial Roofers, Inc, Las Vegas, Nevada. Working with his alma mater, Colorado State University and its Construction Management Department head, Mostafa Khattab, Conway brought the idea of a student competition to the Roofing Alliance.

Today, the competition is more visible than ever among construction management students and faculty. The relationship between the Roofing Alliance and construction management schools began in 2013 when, after embracing Conway’s idea, the Roofing Alliance partnered with McWhorter School of Building Science at Auburn University, the Department of Construction Management at Colorado State University, and M.E. Rinker Sr. School of Building Construction at the University of Florida to create a student competition centered around roofing. Understanding the long-term goal to expose construction management students and faculty to the roofing industry, Roofing Alliance members worked to enhance the overall roofing knowledge of faculty and students in hopes of encouraging students to consider the roofing industry as a viable career option.

The vision and collaboration with the construction schools has since turned into a successful competition. This past year marked the sixth year for the Construction Management Student Competition, presented by the Roofing Alliance. Since the first competition in 2015, student teams from Colorado State University have demonstrated their roofing expertise by competing in all but one year.

“The first year, wex only invited the three schools we had existing relationships with, in order to get the competition up and running successfully,” Conway explained. “Since then I have been thrilled to watch it grow and become a sought-after competition in construction management schools.”

In February 2020, the team from Colorado State University was one of five finalist teams chosen to travel to the International Roofing Expo® in Dallas, Texas, to present its proposal to a panel of judges. The students present a proposal similarly to how they would present a bid to the general contractor for the project. The team placed second at this year’s competition, making it the third year in a row that Colorado State University has won second place. The first year of the competition, the Colorado State University team won first place.

The Construction Management Student Competition tests students’ roofing knowledge, project management skills, and presentation abilities. For the 2020 competition, the teams were required to submit a qualified bid package for a new roof system on the Ford Center, which serves as the indoor practice facility for the Dallas Cowboys football team. The teams researched the project, reviewed the plans and specifications, and assembled a full estimate and qualified package proposal that was submitted to a board of Roofing Alliance judges.

The Colorado State University team consisted of four team members and an alternate. They also had a faculty advisor and a team mentor. Mentors must be either a Roofing Alliance or a National Roofing Contractors Association member. For the second year, Kent Nelson from Front Range Roofing Systems LLC in Greeley, Colorado, served as Colorado State University’s team mentor. Nick Rubino, an alumnus of the Colorado State University Construction Management program and current instructor in the Department of Construction Management, served as the team’s faculty advisor. He has been the faculty advisor for the last three years.

The Colorado State University competing students included Brendan Phelan, Paul Cheever, Jake Peckham, Christopher Vargas, and Mahoney Bajwa. These students are all part of the construction management major at Colorado State University, which is one of the top-ranked programs in the nation. Bringing roofing into the view of these future construction professionals is critical for the ongoing recruitment and reputation efforts of the roofing industry.