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Colorado State University Construction Management Team Continues to Compete at High Levels

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 (CM) programs was Dennis Conway, owner of Commercial Roofers, Inc, Las Vegas, NV.  Working with his Alumna Colorado State University and their Construction Management (CM) CM department head, Mostafa Khattab, Conway brought the idea of a CM Student Competition to the Roofing Alliance.

Today the competition is more visible than ever before 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 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.  2020 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 competing all but one year.

“The first year, we 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 CM 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 to present their proposal to a panel of judges.  The students present a proposal similarly to how they would present to the general contractor for the project.  The team placed second at this year's competition, making it the third year in a row the team from CSU has won second place.  The first year of the competition, the CSU 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 research the project, review the plans and specifications, and assemble a full estimate and qualified package proposal that is 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 Greely, Colorado, served as Colorado State University’s team mentor.  Nick Rubino, an alumnus of the CSU Construction Management program and current instructor in the department of construction management, served as the teams’ faculty advisor.  He has been the faculty advisor for the last three years.

The CSU competing students included:

1.       The team captain, Brendan Phelan, competed for a second year.  He is skilled in Bluebeam, On Screen Takeoff and experienced in Plan Reading. 

2.       Paul Cheever is pursuing a minor in business and real estate in addition to his bachelor’s in science for construction management.

3.       Jake Peckham who has had multiple leadership and work opportunities throughout his academic career including Procore certification and OSHA 10-hour construction program experience.

4.       Christopher Vargas was actively involved in the Sigma Lambda Beta International Fraternity Inc. serving as the president. 

5.       Mahoney Bajwa was in his third year as a team member for this competition.  He served as the team alternate this year and was team captain the previous two years.  OSHA 10-hour certified and proficient with Bluebeam and On-Screen Takeoff, Mahoney has served as the Associated General Contractors Student Chapter president from 2016 until 2019. 

These students are all part of the Construction Management (CM) major at CSU which is one of the top-ranked programs in the nation.  The CM undergraduate program has been accredited since 1985 and is the only program in the state of Colorado accredited by the American Council for Construction Education (ACCE). 

The importance of getting in front of students with the opportunities in roofing continues.  At CSU the Construction Management major addresses issues related to the management of multiple project sites and the applications of resource management, schedule control, cost control, design, and other requirements of the construction process.  Design elements concentrate on the relationship between the built environment and the comfort of its inhabitants while safety education emphasizes the health of the individual worker.  Bringing roofing into the view of these future construction professionals is critical for the ongoing recruitment and reputation efforts of the roofing industry.

Early indications are that CSU will once again be competing in the upcoming student competition.  The 2021 competition will be held in conjunction with the 2021 IRE in Las Vegas, Nevada.  Be sure to look for Dennis Conway at the competition.

For more information on the 2021 student competition, plus information about the Roofing Alliance, contact Bennett Judson, the Roofing Alliance’s executive director, at or visit