CM Places 2nd at MCAA Competition

Andy Palcan from Helm Mechanical, Braden Deck, and MCAA President Bob Bolton 


CM Team Earns Second Place; Student Braden Deck Wins Most Valuable Presenter Award at MCAA Competition

Cal Poly’s team of 10 construction management (CM) students earned second place, and CM junior Braden Deck was named Most Valuable Presenter at the Mechanical Contractors Association of America (MCAA) Student Chapter Competition held in Scottsdale, Arizona, on March 28, 2023.

As runner-up, the Cal Poly team received a trophy and check for $5,000. For giving the best proposal presentation, Deck won a trophy, $500, a complimentary seat in MCAA’s Preparatory Institute for Project Management and the title of 2022-23 Most Valuable Presenter. 

“Winning the Most Valuable Presenter award was a great bonus to this competition,” Deck said. “However, this competition is won by a team. We could never have gotten second place without such a great team.”

In all, 22 of the over 50 MCAA student chapters from across the country submitted contest proposals. Pittsburg State University was awarded the top prize of $10,000, while Fairleigh Dickinson University and McMaster University rounded out the final four, each winning $2,500. In addition, six teams earned Certificates of Merit and checks for $1,000. 

“We worked on this project for over six months and getting second place was really special,” Deck said. “I remember trying to recruit people to join the club, and everyone said they had no mechanical experience. Daniel Desoto, the co-president, and I told everyone that we would all learn together. I can’t explain how proud I was to watch this club grow and come together as we worked on our proposal. When the team received the news that we placed in the final four, we were in shock and extremely proud of the work that we put in.”

CM Department faculty advisors Joe Cleary and Paul Redden accompanied the students, all of whom were recognized at the Awards of Excellence Breakfast on the final morning of the MCAA23 Conference.

“The students did an outstanding job working as a team and leveraging the knowledge gained in their course work and their resources and experiences beyond the classroom to deliver a high-quality submission,” Cleary said. “A big thank you goes out to Northern California MCA for its ongoing support for the students over many years connecting them with the industry and providing invaluable learning opportunities outside of the classroom. With their support, the students have demonstrated that they are ready for the industry.”

The student competitors were charged with submitting a project proposal that involved the construction of the mechanical and plumbing systems at the new district energy facility on the National Western Campus in Denver. The scope of the project included the installation of three 1,000-ton cooling towers, six 6,000-mbh boilers, a SHARC sewer heat recovery system, plate and frame heat exchangers, pumps, piping and supporting infrastructure. The project is currently the largest sewer heat recovery system in North America. 

The students were asked to craft a proposal response to an RFP that included a fictitious company structure, values, project organization chart, financial information, project backlog, bonding capacity, a detailed estimate with a complete bill of materials, a detailed construction plan and schedule, safety and quality control plans, BIM capabilities, and a service and maintenance agreement.

Cal Poly alumnus A. J. Chamorro (Construction Management, ’17), who competed in the MCAA competition five times as an undergraduate, congratulated the students on their “outstanding” performance.

“I attended the MCAA Convention as a representative of the company I work for, Pribuss Engineering Inc.,” Chamorro said. “There was much talk among the industry folks at the conference about how impressive the Cal Poly students were. This competition is of great importance to our industry as mechanical contractors and members of MCAA. I couldn’t be prouder to see Cal Poly shine on the big stage. Every one of the students played a part in achieving this and should be very proud.”

In addition to Deck and Desoto, the Cal Poly CM team members included second-year student Spencer Gardner and third-year students Nathan Haub and Kristina Poliseri.

Students who attended included second-year students Grace Arnold and Misael Gonzalez and third-year students Sam Varney, Will Riviere and Ryan Fehrenbach.

For more information on the competition, go to:

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