In a competition where colleges select from hundreds of students, John Brown University sent its small senior class of six to defend its legacy at the TEXO event in Dallas, Texas. The team placed second, despite their unlikely odds and a coach with the flu.
Leading up to the competition, Mark Terrill, assistant professor of construction management, prepared Ethan Bolthouse, Bryan Harmon, Peter Choi, Brendan Culp, Emiley Hegel and Philip Braun, with the necessary knowledge and tools to succeed at the competition.
When asked about his specific roles as Coach Terrill said, “I coach the team and prepare them before the event, but during the event coaches cannot assist in any way except logistics. That is, before the competition I help the team get ready, provide them with some exercises and help them know what tools and information they need.”
The night before the competition started, Terrill became sick and was unable to be there for the team during the proposal part of the event. In his absence, Terrill felt confident that the team was capable of finishing the competitive portion by themselves.
Before the sun rose, the team gathered inside the Balzer Technology Center at 6:30 a.m. on Feb. 17 to receive the instructions for their project. Next, the students divided up the tasks, and worked diligently for 16 straight hours to complete the entire pre-construction process.
“This includes estimating, scheduling, logistics and safety plans, things that would normally take a month, we try to condense into a day,” senior Phillip Braun said.
Braun said, “The goal is to not suck the most. No one really knows what’s going on and everyone is struggling to get everything done in 16 hours. The goal is not to be perfect, but to get it done better than everyone else did.”
JBU fell into the commercial division of the competition, which covers small office buildings. Emiley Hegel, a senior construction management student, co-led the scheduling portion of the project and won best presenter for their division of the TEXO competition.
Hegel is one of two women in the construction management program at JBU, and had to overcome a lot of hurdles in the program. One of the biggest hurdles she faced was beating the negative stereotypes of being a women in construction.
“Sometimes companies reach out to you because you are a woman, rather than reaching out to you because of your resume and your skills. I have found that some companies use you for the gender representation for their group,” Hegel said.
Hegel eventually made a lot of friends over the years, and found her niche in the department. She said that her biggest strength in the competition was her organization and ability to stay on schedule. In addition, she was able to assist her team in the preparation part of the construction plan by working on quality safety.
Like Hegel, each member of the team brought a unique skillset to the competition. JBU’s team, unlike the larger schools, was able to stand out among the competition by sending a tight-knit group who had already worked together.
“We had an advantage being such a small school, we know each other’s strengths and weaknesses really well, and we were able to carry each other’s weaknesses while being able to build on each other’s strengths,” Hegel said.
The size of the construction program also allows professors to fine-tune the student’s skills.
“I would attribute it to the fact that we are literally trained for this specific kind of stuff. Our classes teach us what we are actually going to do. We had a familiarity with the entire construction process, something that our competition did not,” Braun said.