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The contest, part of the annual SkillsUSA-VICA meeting, was the first time all the trades were brought together at the national level to compete. Individual trades, such as carpentry, have been competing for years. These teams, each of which had won their state contests, were now competing for the first Team Build title.
In welcoming the students, technical committee chair John Crowley, president of New England Classics, said the contest not only required integrating building skills, but also teamwork and team spirit. "Each of you has a specific trade discipline," he said, "but it requires each of you to work together to accomplish this job." The teams had to show good communication skills, vocational disciplines, and the ability to work together in a cross-discipline nature.
The day before construction began, gathered in a hotel conference room, each team had to make a presentation as to how it planned to complete the project. Team Build is unique in that more than simple construction skills are judged. The ability to communicate among themselves, as well as to outsiders, was judged before the first cement block was placed. (www.skillsusa.org; click SkillsUSA Championships, then click Demonstration Contests, then click Team Build Contest.)
The contest took place in an outdoor plaza with each team given a chalked-off area in which to work, a complete set of hand and power tools supplied by Stanley and Bosch, and a table for consulting plans and sketches. Electrical and plumbing diagrams were passed out before the start of the contest, as were some change orders.
The supply depot, which contained only enough product for the 10 kitchens, set off from the construction areas. Stacks of lumber and plywood sat next to a tent housing cabinets, fasteners, siding and countertops.
At 8 a.m., the teams walked over to their sites, started unpackaging tools, organizing their work, ordering materials and the contest was off.
Just as on a real site, the teams had to fill out material orders, taking into account the space given over to storage, the timing of the delivery, and the fact that nine other teams were ordering from the same supply depot. Orders were filled and delivered in the order received. Teams were judged on how well they ordered, when they ordered, and how many times they ordered. Teams that ordered more than required for the project were given the proper quantity and marked off for the inaccuracy.
Sid Trimmer, a teacher from Greene County Technical Education Center in Virginia, was there watching his team. "This is one of the few team skills events here," he said. "If you work in construction, you have to learn to work with people. You have to plan. They're going to learn a lot here."
Rod Sutton is the Editor-in-Chief for Professional Remodeler. Please email him with any comments or questions regarding his column.