Steve Muench challenges about 70 college juniors taking the Construction Engineering course he teaches each quarter with a real-world assignment and he provides them with real-world software courtesy of B2W to handle the estimating portion.
“One thing students really appreciate is the opportunity to learn an actual skill, and B2W is a great skill for them to learn,” says Muench, professor of civil and environmental engineering at the University of Washington. “The software provides a realistic understanding of how the estimating process works and how labor, materials and equipment break down and impact the bid; things they would not get by just reading or studying in theory.”
The University of Washington, where Muench has taught since 2004, has taken advantage of B2W College Program for more than a decade. Bringing hands-on experience with the software to college construction programs and the industry’s future leaders is what the program is all about.
B2W provides software and support free of charge to dozens of colleges and universities offering programs in construction management, construction technology, civil engineering, construction science and related fields.
Muench earned BS, MS and PhD degrees in civil engineering at UW and worked as a transportation design engineer before joining the faculty. The quarter-long project for his Construction Engineering course is based on actual plans and specifications for a $1.5-million park-and-ride facility built in the area about 15 years ago. Groups of four to six students create a work package for a portion of the project, such as the sidewalks or paving. They then pool those work packages together so that each team can create an entire project schedule and estimate.
The construction sector – including contractors, engineering and inspection firms and project owners – is the largest employer for graduates of the UW Civil and Environmental Engineering program. Up to half of the students enter the field. Experience with estimating software is obviously important for the ones that will eventually use it in their careers. Students that pursue fields that do not involve them with estimating directly also benefit through exposure to a process and software tool that they otherwise might not ever see, according to Muench.
“Hands-on experience with a leading software program that the industry uses is vitally important,” says Muench. “Students learn estimating in a realistic manner, and it gives them a valuable bullet point on their resume that really resonates with potential employers.”
More information on the B2W College Program is available by contacting Nicole Mendes at [email protected]. Steve Muench is the Tom and Marilyn Draeger / The Beavers Charitable Trust Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the University of Washington. He can be reached at [email protected].