Construction competition a big draw for high schoolers

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High school students interested in exploring a career in the construction industry are encouraged to participate in the Construction Challenge competition scheduled for Jan. 15.

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High school students interested in exploring a career in the construction industry are encouraged to participate in the Construction Challenge competition scheduled for Jan. 15.

The competition is a mix of problem solving, creativity and fun and draws a number of Chicagoland schools. Thornton Township High School was among the schools with teams competing in last year’s competition and the school is expected to return this year.

Kacie Trimble, a student at the south suburban Harvey high school, said to get people interested in last year’s challenge she started an engineering club, went online to see what the competition was about and encouraged teachers, staff and her peers to get involved.

“Many people here are involved with engineering and didn’t know about the competition so this gave them a chance to use their engineering skills in a fun creative way,” said Trimble, 16.

Last year, Trimble and her team took first place in regionals, second place in sectionals and made it to the global competition in Knoxville, Tennessee. For the next Construction Challenge “we have actually expanded to two teams instead of one,” she said.

“We expect to learn how to build and to expand our knowledge of things related to engineering and science and to work more as a team,” said Trimble.

Other schools that have participated in the past and are expected back in January include Perspectives charter school and Proviso Math and Science Academy in west suburban Forest Park.

The Construction Challenge Rally will take place in seven other cities including Chicago. The goal of the Construction Challenge is to create a competition with a positive subject matter that will provide a learning experience for youth interested in aspects of the construction industry.

On most of the teams, Diana Baldi, the Chicago Regional Rally leader, said minority students are the majority. She acknowledged that students usually entered the competition seeking to win prizes but as they got into it, their career interests were piqued.

“In the past years, the entry level survey said only 15 percent of the youth participating was interested in the industry. They didn’t care about the industry, they just wanted to win something, which was fine but after their experience, 85 percent of the kids came back and said ‘we had no idea there were this many leading interesting careers that I could actually have and live in this country,’” she said.

The Association of Equipment Manufacturers and Destination ImagiNation are producers of the challenge with sponsor Volvo Construction Equipment.

“We have already seen the benefits of offering a competition such as Construction Challenge to youth, and our partnership with Destination ImagiNation has been a tremendous success,” AEM President Dennis Slater said in a written statement announcing the 2011 competition.

The Rally will take place at the Chicago Regional Council of Carpenters’ Apprentice and Training Center at 2141 S. Union Ave. It’s expected that 2,000 students or more on 400 teams will compete.

Copyright 2010 Chicago Defender

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