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Roofing Alliance 2020 Student Competition - Best Individual Presenter: Samuel Short

Auburn University’s Samuel Short takes home best individual presenter.

As summer moves into fall, students are heading back to construction management programs across the country.  Some will be fully online, some in the classroom and many will experience a combination of both environments.  As construction management students return to Auburn University, they can celebrate the title of Best Individual Presenter that is held by Samuel Short.

Students from the McWhorter School of Building Science studying building construction represented Auburn University with pride as they showcased their talent and knowledge at the 2020 Roofing Alliance construction management student competition.   They applied their studies and gained real-world experience while one team member was recognized for his outstanding presentation skills.

Since 2015, the competition's inaugural year, student teams from Auburn University have been recognized for their superior presentation abilities and their overall teamwork, winning first place in 2018.  For roofing companies in the midwest searching for new hires, graduates from the McWhorter School of Building Science are talented, driven and knowledgeable.

Auburn University, located in the Midwest Roofing Contractors Association (MRCA) territory, one of five finalist teams in the 2020 Roofing Alliance construction management student competition.  The team traveled to the International Roofing Expo® held in Dallas, Texas in February of this year.  While there, they presented their proposal to a panel of judges, as if they were presenting to the general contractor for the project.

The construction management student competition tests students’ roofing knowledge, project management skills, and presentation abilities.  Kyle Thomas, president of the Roofing Alliance and past chair of the student competition, along with Dennis Conway, a Roofing Alliance member and former National Roofing Contractors Association (NRCA) chairman, had the vision for contractors to collaborate with construction schools.  This vision has since turned into a successful and competitive event.

“The first year, we only invited the three schools we had existing relationships with, in order to get the competition up and running successfully,” explained Kyle Thomas of Thomas Roofing and president of the Roofing Alliance.  The three schools included Auburn University, Colorado State University and University of Florida.  Throughout the years the competition has seen as many as 11 teams and 53 students competing.  Eight teams with 38 students participated in the 2020 competition. 

2020 Competition

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,” according to Thomas.

The Auburn team consisted of Rachel Nemecek (team captain), Samuel Short, Oliver Reinwald, Davis Hambrick, and Walker Lott (alternate).  Their faculty advisor, Lauren Redden, is an assistant professor for the McWhorter School of Building Science at Auburn University.  The team mentor, who must be a Roofing Alliance or a National Roofing Contractors Association member, was Kyle Thomas from Thomas Roofing Co. Inc. in Mobile, Alabama.  Thomas also has served as the chair of the student competition for three years.

In addition to judging each team according to very specific criteria, judges also ranked the individual students on a scale of 1-10, with 10 being the highest and most outstanding score, to determine the Best Individual Presenter.  Judges used the following criteria as the students presented; does the presenter:

-       Have a good understanding of the project

-       Have a good understanding of his/her company’s proposal

-       Present himself/herself professionally

-       Have a comfortable “stage” presence

-       Make good eye contact

-       Speak clearly, confidently, audibly

-       Think quickly on his/her feet - good responses to questions

Of all of the students who presented, Samuel Short had the highest score, meaning he met most, if not all, criteria the judges used to determine the Best Individual Presenter Award.  This isn’t the first-time students from Auburn University have been recognized for their outstanding presentation skills.  In 2018, the same year the team won first place, Hannah Redifer was also awarded as the Best Individual Presenter.

“These kids are incredibly impressive.  It seems like today we sometimes hear a lot of negative comments about the youth of America, but I have not found that to be true with these students.  They are sharp, they are driven.  It’s been great, one of the most fun and rewarding things that I have done,” Thomas shared.

Best Individual Presenter: Samuel Short

Samuel, who is from Auburn, Alabama, has had multiple internships at Batson-Cook Construction in Georgia.  He was an intern field engineer at their Atlanta location in 2017 and 2018.  His responsibilities included placing control lines for subcontractors, reviewing building layouts and checking subcontractors’ work.  He also assisted with placing elevations for concrete pour and helped the safety manager maintain a safe work environment. 

Samuel was a full-time intern estimator at Batson-Cook Construction’s Westpoint location for four months in 2018.  While there, he communicated and negotiated pricing with subcontractors for bid projects, was responsible for quantity takeoff and pricing for mid- to large-scale projects, and handled various clerical needs for the company. 

With four years of overall construction experience and carpentry experience, Samuel has learned many valuable skills.  He is certified in crane rigging and signaling and is also proficient in using transit level and total station surveying equipment.  And in his spare time, Samuel is actively involved in handball and campus ministry, ARM@AU.

The Roofing Alliance celebrates the Auburn teammates

Samuel and his teammates are all earning their Bachelor of Science in Building Construction.  Many are also pursuing minors in addition to working and serving as interns for various construction companies.

Auburn University’s team captain, Rachel Nemeck, is pursuing a minor in business administration in addition to her bachelor’s degree.  From Stockton, Alabama, Rachel has completed the OSHA 30-hour construction safety and health certification and is a member of the Associated General Contractors of America student chapter.  Rachel was an estimating intern with Ben M. Radcliff Contractor Inc. in 2019.  She gathered pricing and bids from subcontractors and suppliers, utilized on-screen takeoff software in order to get precise measurements and quantities during her time as an estimating intern.  Rachel was also a field/office intern at JE Dunn Construction for three months in 2017 and 2018.  During her time there she was responsible for document control, submitting RFI’s, reviewing submittals and updating documents.

Oliver Reinwald has had multiple internships in the last few years.  From Northport, Alabama, he has traveled as far as Colorado for an internship at GE Johnson Construction Company in 2019.  During his time in Colorado, Oliver conducted site safety assessments, prepared and presented toolbox talks, and oversaw mitigation of hazards.  Since 2018, Oliver has been an intern at Carter and Carter, LLC.  His responsibilities included writing prime and subcontractor change orders and owner invoices, conducting QC walks, and overseeing problem mitigation.  He also had administrative duties and reviewed subcontractor product data and shop drawings, in addition to identifying field issues and document clashes. 

To complement his bachelor’s in building construction and minor in business administration, Davis Hambrick, from Auburn, Alabama, has had multiple internships and work opportunities.  In 2019, Davis worked at Kirchler Construction as a carpenter/laborer.  He made and installed custom cabinets and interior trim and prepared concrete slab perimeters with forms made on-site.  Recently, Davis was an intern at Bacar Constructors Inc., for three months in 2019.  He supervised a 200,000 square foot building and contributed to the successful submittal process by coordination with subcontractors and travelling to job sites.

The teams’ alternate, Walker Lott, is earning a minor in finance while studying at Auburn University.  He is a sales associate for RealtySouth, helping his clients in the home buying and selling process.  Previously, in 2019, he was a project engineer intern at Fairway Construction.  During his time there he managed subcontractors and laborers on jobsites.  Walker is forklift certified and a member of the Associated General Contractors Builders Guild.

A great place to find future roofing professionals:  McWhorter School of Building Science

As one of the largest and most respected construction management programs in the United States, the McWhorter School combines practical and professional construction education principles.  Graduates from the McWhorter School have a career placement of 98% and an average starting salary of $62,772.

The Bachelor of Science in Building Construction (BSCI) Program at Auburn University is a four-year ACCE (American Council for Construction Education) accredited program focused on construction management.  “While in the program, students get specialized training in estimating, scheduling, project management, safety, surveying, sustainable construction, and structures,” according to Auburn University.  “The Building Construction Program is unique due to its leading-edge information technology applications emphasis.”  Graduates have a strong foundation for success with their completion of this program.

Additional Degree Options

Auburn University also offers a Master of Building Construction Program, which students have been enrolling in since 1992.  The master program, “continues to develop research opportunities, strong industry relations, and excellent academic content.”

Practicing professionals also have an opportunity to participate in Auburn’s Executive Certificate programs, which introduce topics such as estimating and scheduling.  These classes are offered through a combination of intensive campus residency, online learning, and field studies. 

A group of industry professionals comprise the McWhorter School of Building Science Industry Executive Board.  The purpose of this board is to “advance the educational, service, and applied research opportunities of the School of Building Science,” Auburn University explains.  These professionals are committed to discussing and reviewing issues that construction education faces and they advise educators on professional education programs.

BSCI alumni and supporters can stay involved with the school through the school’s Industry Advisory Council.  Established in 2018, this council is a regionally based group that focuses on curriculum issues, mentoring, industry visits to Auburn, outreach and research.  While their objectives are different than that of the Industry Executive Board, their goals are complementary.

There are ample opportunities for students to engage with professionals and companies in the industry through career fairs, information sessions, guest lectures, financial sponsorship and scholarships, and displayed marketing materials.  These experiences provide students with additional skills and knowledge that not only help them with their studies, but also set them apart from others as they enter the workforce and begin applying for jobs.

Every summer, Auburn University hosts the annual Building Construction Summer Camp for rising 11th and 12th graders who are considering a career in architecture or building science.  During this week-long camp, faculty and current students from the McWhorter School of Building Science teach participants how to plan and manage a construction project.  Participants get a lot of hands-on experience and have the opportunity to work together to build a construction project.  The camp focuses on construction basics, as well as how to “integrate building design with site, climate, function and ‘green’ considerations,” according to Auburn University.

What started as a vision for contractors to collaborate with construction schools has turned into a successful and competitive student competition.  The Roofing Alliance construction management student competition provides these aspiring construction professionals with a real-world application to what they are studying at the McWhorter School of Building Science.  Participants learn the value of teamwork, how to put together a qualified bid package for a roof system and how to present themselves to a panel of judges, which Samuel exemplified at the 2020 student competition in Dallas.  The student competition is the perfect opportunity for students studying building construction to put their knowledge into practice.

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