Tocci Co-op Helps Team Win Student Competition


Tocci’s Co-op James Thomas takes on Role of Lead Estimator in Student Design-Build Competition

Here’s His Story

As a co-op from Wentworth Institute of Technology, I assist Tocci’s Cost Engineers to develop estimates for proposals. In my classes I have prepared estimates but now in practice at Tocci, I have started to pick up various tips and tricks in developing an estimate, especially when evaluating Value Engineering (VE) options to help reduce the project cost.

This past weekend I put what I had learned at Tocci to use in a Design-Build Competition held by the Associated Schools of Construction (ASC). I teamed with Wentworth classmates on this effort. There were many different categories of competition related to construction. They consisted of Design-Build, Commercial Construction, Pre-Construction Services and Heavy Civil. The event was held in Albany, NY where our Wentworth team competed against six other top schools in our region in the Design-Build category.

For the competition, the team is given a Request for Proposal (RFP) at 8:00 am on Friday morning and by 11:00pm that night, you must submit a full proposal with a complete design, estimate, schedule, logistics and project approach. Along with the proposal, each team must present their proposal to a panel of four industry professionals the following day.

This RFP asked for an Integrated Project Delivery (IPD) Design-Build mixed use residential development for a university. The proposal requested a design with 510 beds, a 31,500 SF dining area, space for programmatic academic areas, to achieve LEED® Gold certification, and to be completed in two phases. In the first phase, 205 beds and the dining area had to be turned over. In the second phase, the remaining 205 beds need to be turned over for occupancy.

I took the role of Lead Estimator. We were given a budget of $70,000,000 – $80,000,000. On a Design-Build project, the goal is to maximize the budget and complete the project on an accelerated schedule through a more collaborative architect/builder relationship. In my role, I had to take the design created by the two architecture students on our team (see feature image) and generate an estimated cost of the project. I ended up with a Guaranteed Maximum Price (GMP) of $78,365,813 for the four buildings we designed. Included in that GMP were all direct costs, General Conditions/General Requirements, Design Fee, Contingency and Overhead, and Profit. I also had to provide an assortment of VE options to the owner. So far at Tocci, I have increased my understanding of pricing typical items and how to prepare accurate estimates, which helped me get each of those categories right in the wheelhouse of what the judges wanted to see landing us in first place in the Design –Build Competition.
WDB - Wentworth Team
This was an amazing experience for me – one that I will never forget. It helped me to work better with a team, prioritize tasks, and manage our time efficiently. The competition prepared me not only for what I will need to provide in my senior project but also for what I might need to do one day in a full time job in the industry. Taking the first place spot at this competition means a lot for my teammates and me. The judges commented afterward that they were really impressed with how clear and concise our proposal was while still delivering everything that was asked of us. The judges also enjoyed our professional presentation and thought we did a good job explaining thoroughly each part of our proposal.

This competition is a great experience for any student in the construction industry. It gives you a chance to experience what it’s actually like to put together a whole proposal for a project from start to finish. With the really tight time constraint it also forces you and your team to manage time effectively and collaborate at every step to work as unified team and accomplish tasks. The whole process tries to simulate a real world scenario to help students prepare for full time jobs once we’ve graduated.

I want to thank the entire Planning + Cost Engineering department for their help in preparing me indirectly for this competition. Without some of the knowledge I have gained at Tocci I would not have been able to complete the estimate as well as I did.



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