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TCIC student bid competitors deliver top notch results

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by Lindsey Cole

George Brown College student Justin Babcock says taking part in The Construction Institute of Canada (TCIC) Simulated Student Bid Competition meant a lot of hard work and taking every aspect of the project seriously.
From left, George Brown students Brad Shapiro, Anthony Carmosino, Bianca Savage and Justin Babcock of the JABB Construction Ltd. team won first place in the Most Accurate and Complete Bid in The Construction Institute of Canada Simulated Student Bid Competition.
From left, George Brown students Brad Shapiro, Anthony Carmosino, Bianca Savage and Justin Babcock of the JABB Construction Ltd. team won first place in the Most Accurate and Complete Bid in The Construction Institute of Canada Simulated Student Bid Competition. - Photo: LINDSEY COLE

That's why when he and team members Bianca Savage, Brad Shapiro, and Anthony Carmosino took home the $2,000 first place prize for Most Accurate and Complete Bid, it was validation that team JABB Construction Ltd.'s dedication had paid off.

"We really looked over the drawings and made sure we were kind of on top of everything including RFIs, anything to do with the project. Obviously the last few weeks were a lot of sleepless nights and a lot of work. I'm glad I did it with these three," explains Babcock.

"I would say that this bid competition was as close as you can get to a real simulation of a bid. I think that it was a great experience for people who have never done it before or never actually worked in the industry to really see how the process acutally goes. It will be a great thing to have in our back pocket."

The yearly TCIC student bid competition challenges students to take on the construction bidding and estimating process.

Teams from across Canada submit bids based on a set of contract documents, which must contain quantity take offs for own forces work, a sub-trade analysis and selection, as well as an overhead and pricing summary.

The bids are judged on the most outstanding professional conduct, most accurate and complete bid package, and closest to the target price.

Students taking part in the competition this year had to bid based on the Philip J. Currie Dinosaur Museum project in Grand Prairie, Alberta, which was built by PCL Construction.

Varun Dhawan, TCIC 2015 Student Bid Competition executive director, says that the target price for teams was around $20.3 million.

It was a unique project, explains Craig Lesurf, honourary chairman of the TCIC bid competition and general manager of Walsh Canada, with various angles to consider.

"The project itself is very exciting. To think that you're going to get three bids within one per cent is amazing," he explains of the teams who placed in the top spots in the closest to the target price category.

"It's top notch calibre. We had over 220 participants and I think they've all learned something and as part of this process that's what this is all about. You're not going to learn just building boxes. Sometimes you have to have something that's going to stretch your imagination."

Carrying on from last year's bid competition was the two-stage bidding process, with an electronic bid submission using Infinite Source on the first day, followed by a hard copy submission 24 hours later. The online surety and bonding system Xenex was also used.

This year, 57 teams submitted for the competition with eight schools from coast to coast taking part, adds Dhawan, and the competition was fierce.

"They (the submissions) were really professional," he says.

"This is on par with exactly what you would expect from a P3 proposal from one of the big GCs, so I guess we have to thank the mentors out there."

As part of the competition each team must have an industry mentor. Fifty-nine mentors took part this year helping teams by giving them first-hand knowledge and advice.

ICON Group from BCIT (British Columbia Institute of Technology) won the $1,000 prize for being closest to the target price, and were only off by 0.02 per cent, or about $3,000 away from the target, explains Dhawan. The most professional bid and $1,000 prize went to Alair Group from George Brown College.

Building Information Modelling (BIM) also played a role in this year's bid competition, with one team using BIM for their submission, as well as those on the executive doing a BIM model of the museum, which was presented at the recent awards gala.

Lesurf was quick to point out that each year he's been involved in the student bid competition "the bar gets raised" with issues coming up during the competition that aren't unlike the real world.

"It's what we call the world of grey. Bidding and tendering is in a world of grey. This grey is what the interpretation is," he says, adding the smallest of details can change the whole bid submission.

"Sometimes words have power, and sometimes they don't. It's what happens in real life. It's (the competition) about getting into the estimating, understanding the process of actually building it in your mind. At the end of the day that's how we all win work, or keep work, or do future work, is to actually go out and estimate it and put a plan in place."

John Mollenhauer, president of the Toronto Construction Association, echoes his comments.

"I'm really, really impressed this year with the extraordinary teamwork...the quality of the submissions, the extraordinary organization," he states.

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