39th Annual High School Construction Competition Makes Its Houston Debut at LSC-North Harris

Blanson CTE Students participating in CIEF Design Build Competition
Students from Blanson CTE proudly participated in the CIEF Design Build Competition.

More than 100 high school students representing 10 South East Texas schools, from Blanson CTE High School in Aldine ISD to Medina Valley High School west of San Antonio, gathered at Lone Star College-North Harris March 27 and 28 to participate in the Construction Industry Education Foundation’s (CIEF) 39th Annual Design Build Competition.

This competition is part of CIEF’s mission to introduce high school students to rewarding careers in the construction industry, and this was the first time the two-day competition was held in the Houston area.

“This competition allows our students to take book knowledge and help get that practical work knowledge experience in the field and undergo real-world training they could only get from actually doing the job,” shared Felix Jones, HVAC/Construction Trade Instructor at Blanson CTE. Jones went on to emphasize how the students must use their skills and critical thinking to complete the project. “When it all comes together and you see those light bulbs go off in the students, it’s a real game changer,” Jones said.

“We are participating because we heard about this competition that incorporates construction and HVAC skills,” said Tuan Pham, construction student at Blanson CTE. “This competition gave our school an opportunity to come out here and show all our skills on a stage that was recognized by a bigger audience. We are really excited to be here.”

In preparation for the event, each team was paired with architectural mentors and challenged to prepare several construction documents according to criteria outlined by CIEF. The teams started building their structures and were judged by industry professionals on the completion of the design, construction, code compliance, and safety.

“We are really trying to replicate a real-world jobsite for the students by setting up job boards,” said Brittany Albaugh, Director of National Youth Programs at CIEF. “Each team has a designated safety person focusing on the safety aspects, as well as a construction manager. On the second day of the competition, we invited industry experts to walk the job sites and connect with the students so that they can show off their skillsets and capabilities.”

This year’s competition focused on building storage sheds, playhouses, and agricultural structures. Once the competition was over, several schools donated their structures to regional nonprofits while others sold the structures to help fund their school’s future projects or career technology education classes.

The Design Build Competition offers scholarships to graduating seniors who plan to continue their futures in the trades sponsored by industry professionals. Students and teams also won $4,000 in prizes in categories such as Safety Person of the Year, Architectural Awards, and Best of Show. Blanson CTE and three other schools were candidates for the People’s Choice Award, whose work was judged online. On April 5, Nacogdoches High School was announced the winner.

Born out of the Sacramento Regional Builders Exchange, which was founded in 1901, CIEF works to engage high school students and young adults in the rewarding careers available in the built environment. In 2023-24, CIEF will serve more than 10,000 students through its programs and award more than $145,000 in academic and summer program scholarships.

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