Cal Poly Dominates VDC Competition as Webcor Identifies Top Talent

This year's Virtual Design and Construction competition in Reno, Nevada, saw the biggest turnout yet, with 14 teams of six students each.

March 25, 2024


This year's Virtual Design and Construction competition in Reno, Nevada, saw the biggest turnout yet, with 14 teams of six students each. "Last year, we had nine teams," says VDC Director Jocelyn Mezofenyi, who served as one of Webcor's judges.

Problems posed to the students included a value engineering exercise, tower crane and structural concrete logistics, underground utility coordination, and multi-site utility and logistics coordination.

The Associated Schools of Construction (ASC) event draws nearly 1,700 students and 1,300 industry professionals who come together to tackle problem statements, listen to student presentations, attend the presentation of awards to competition winners, and attend a career fair and recruiting event.

Seventeen contractors participated in the competition, including 11 problem sponsors. For the teams that opted to tackle the VDC challenge, Webcor based its problems on the Mission Rock F and horizontal projects. "We talked to the project team to understand real-world challenges the Mission Rock team had and how they overcame them," explains Project Director Blair Hinojosa, who has been involved with the ASC competition for 11 years. "We then simplified those problems to something the students can solve during the 15-hour problem statement window."

Students work through one of the problems Webcor presented at the ASC 2024 competition in Reno.

The hands-on portion of the competition, introduced in recent years, was an event highlight. "The students take the VDC information they would typically crunch in the computer and think through how to use that info 'in the field' in real-world applications," says Blair. Students used total stations for layout and created shop drawings and QC mock-ups.

"This year, we also did something unique," Jocelyn adds. "Because the competition's theme was collaboration, we had the students come into our conference room and act as if they were participating in an actual trade coordination meeting to resolve model clashes."

Students from all the schools that competed in the VDC category participated in these meetings. "We got amazing feedback from the faculty and other GCs who listened to the student presentations," Jocelyn says. They thought adding those meetings added real-life experience to the competition."

The meetings exposed the students to the real world of participating in a large group where they needed to have their voices heard. "That takes some confidence, and that's what we're trying to give the students a bit of exposure to," Jocelyn explains.

"While they were tentative at first, the students embraced the hands-on collaboration between the different teams," says Project Manager Rachel Johnson, another Webcor judge. The feedback we got was that they really enjoyed getting to know other people from other schools and seeing how different schools use VDC tools to tackle these problems."Cal Poly won first and second place in the competition; Boise State took third.

Webcor's ASC Reno volunteers, from left: Mac Hammit, Blair Hinojosa, Rachel Johnson, Karen Turcios, Stephan Bills, and Jocelyn Mezofenyi.

Webcor's investment in the competition is paying off in recruiting. Blair shares, "This year, we found a lot of really great candidates. Just from the problem statement we facilitate, we identified 8-10 candidates we are working to bring in for interviews for either internships or full-time positions."

The competition wouldn't be possible without the efforts of many Webcor employees who served as judges and recruiters. Human Resources Specialist Dante Robinson, whom Blair described as "the MVP from the HR/Recruiting side," was instrumental in facilitating the career fair and keeping students engaged.

With nearly two decades of sponsorship under its belt, Webcor's ongoing involvement in the ASC Student Competition continues to drive innovation and attract top talent to the company.

HR's Dante Robinson, at right, leads part of the VDC competition at ASC Reno.