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MCEF Skills Competition Q+A

March 9, 2017

The Power of Plus_new

Intern architect Kwayera Franklin recently participated in his third Mississippi Construction Education Foundation (MCEF) Skills Competition as an industry volunteer. Enjoy this look into Kwayera’s experience and this incredible annual event.

How did you get involved with MCEF and the Skills Competition?
In 2014, Jackie Smithers and I were asked to prepare drawings for the team build and carpentry competitions. We were also asked to help with the 2015 Competition. Since that first year, CDFL has been asked to participate whenever there is a need.

What kind of role do you play in the Skills Competition?
I haven’t worked with any of the participants. My role has been in the creation of the drawings they build from – I’m more of a behind-the-scenes support person.

What types of drawings have you provided?
For the 2014 competition, Jackie and I designed two small buildings: a doghouse for the carpentry competition, and a storage shed for the teamwork competition. In 2015, we designed an additional structure: a wildlife observation booth that used some of the same details from our previous designs. The observation booth was used in place of the storage shed for the 2015 competition.

In this year’s competition, the storage shed design will be reused and modified to become a ticket booth!

What is the process for providing drawings? Is it up to the designer or does MCEF provide strict parameters?
We met with the MCEF project managers and they gave us some basic parameters, which were based upon testing the students’ abilities to (1) read a set of construction drawings, (2) identify tools and process needed to produce the finished product, and (3) perform the tasks in a safe and timely manner. We produced a materials takeoff, along with construction drawings, that included floor plans, sections, elevations, details, plumbing and electrical drawings. The participants received the drawings prior to the competition, giving them ample opportunity to prepare.

Tell us more about the competition and how it all comes together.
It’s really interesting to see how this event comes together year after year. There are several hundred people in the Trade Mart during the competitions – students and instructors alike – all performing their individual tasks. It reminds me of a gigantic construction site. From welders to electricians, every basic trade you might find on a job site is represented. It’s a lot to take in.

What about the competition’s events? How are the students organized?
Some are individual competitions, others are team-based.

Do the students select the competition they wish to participate in or are they randomly placed into team/individual events?
High school students, community college students, and adult apprenticeship participants are placed into competitions based on what they are studying that semester. The students are enrolled in programs administered by MCEF and are from all over the state. Winners are chosen to go to the national skills competition held later in the year.

This sounds like such a great opportunity for the participants. What is your favorite part of all this?
One of the best parts, in my opinion, is the community aspect of it all. The items that are judged suitable for use are auctioned, sold, or donated so these students get a chance to have their creations become useful to someone else. MCEF also provides an opportunity for these students that many people will never get to realize, and it’s all for the advancement of the construction industry and workforce development.

Another piece of this that I really appreciate is the construction industry getting behind MCEF in their efforts; most, if not all, materials and equipment used in the competition are donated by builders and other industry-related companies. It’s pretty amazing to see people come together for the good of everyone. This is just another example of the excellence of the human spirit.

I love that the items created are distributed in some way! What kinds of goods are donated or sold?
All kinds of items are sold! Goods ranging from barbecue grills and metal sculptures produced during the welding competition to cabinets made during the carpentry competition. Big and small, they sell it all! Selling or donating the items is one way to clean up the Trade Mart after the competition. I can’t imagine one crew having to haul away and dispose of all those materials off by themselves!

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