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TCIC student bid competition a real world test

Lindsey Cole
TCIC student bid competition a real world test

Real-world people helping students get real-world experience is what The Construction Institute of Canada (TCIC) Simulated Student Bid Competition is about, says Craig Lesurf, general manager of Walsh Canada.

Lesurf says he’s been involved for a number of years and has seen firsthand how the competition can help students merge into careers.

"One of the biggest things we have in this industry about bidding and tendering is how the process works, and it’s a great misunderstanding," says Lesurf.

"I think this helps bring clarity to the students of how it all comes together."

The yearly event challenges students to tackle the construction bidding and estimating process. The idea is for teams across Canada to submit complete bids based on a set of contract documents, which must contain quantity take offs for own forces work, a sub-trade analysis and selection, as well as an overhead and pricing summary.

Last year 62 teams, with 315 students from 10 post-secondary schools across Canada took part.

"If you can’t bid and win a job, you’re not going to have a lot of work," Lesurf explains of the value of what participants learn.

"Understand the rules of the game. The students will be held accountable to certain standards."

The bids are judged on the most outstanding professional conduct, most accurate and complete bid package, and closest to the target price.

Third and fourth year students take part in the challenge with participants of the competition comprised of third year students in an estimating team. Fourth year students facilitate the competition.

"It’s like life. Sometimes when you miss the date, it’s painful," Lesurf says, noting the importance of accuracy and dedication.

"Some of them (students) have said it’s the best experience they’ve had."

Each team must also have a mentor. In 2014, 50 mentors from various construction companies participated. Mentors must be in the construction industry, and teams must obtain their mentor and email a signed "Mentor Declaration Form" by Tuesday, Feb. 17.

"It’s more like a sports event, everyone is on the same team, you want to win, you have your coaches who are your mentors," says Executive Director of the TCIC 2015 Bid Competition Varun Dhawan.

"A mentor is pretty much your resource. They are your guide towards the industry. This whole competition is a training ground for the industry."

"The mentors play a really big role. When you’re in an estimating class, there could be 60 to 100 students to one professor," adds Farah Jhuman, who sits on the George Brown College Executive Committee and is helping with public relations for the competition.

"The role of the mentor is to assist the team throughout the entire process. They are a point of reference. We’re always open to taking more mentors."

A feature at last year’s bid competition had a new two-stage bidding process with an electronic bid submission using Infinite Source on the first day, followed by a hard copy submission 24 hours later. The online surety and bonding system Xenex was used for the first time as well.

This year features the same process with an electronic submission followed by the hard copy.

"It gives them a real-life experience of what bidding on a job would be like, the estimating, the quantity take offs," adds Jhuman.

"A lot of it you’ll learn in class, but what you don’t learn is the process of bidding, like the actual bid bonds and getting a surety and all of the paper work that goes with it."

This year, Dhawan states, there is also a new challenge for teams to consider. "There’s a lot of risks involved with the project and bonds for that would be priced in a different way," he says.

"We’ll be asking questions about your past experience, your revenue. It’s an educational process for you to know how bonds are processed or how the process works in a more detailed way."

Winners of the competition are presented with monetary awards and plaques, along with certificates for participation. The winners will be announced at a gala event in April.

"It’s all about industry and support. I think it’s going to be another banner year. The kids get a lot out of this," adds Lesurf.  "Everybody needs to support it. I think we can’t find enough estimators in the industry."

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