University of Colorado Boulder Wins 2016 Student Competition

Katie Colten  |  November 15, 2016

Competing in front of a live jury and audience at the Design-Build Conference & Expo in Las Vegas, the shortlisted teams from the University of Colorado Boulder, University of Oklahoma and Washington State University defended their design and construction plans for a parking facility on a college campus in Tennessee. A jury of eight judges evaluated teams based on their delivery solutions and demonstration of team collaboration and synergy to solve design-build problems. The finalists varied in their solutions to approaching the project, but the overall scores were extremely close.

The team from the University of Colorado Boulder, competing under the name Von Thaden & Associates, was named the winner of the 2016 competition. Washington State University placed second and University of Oklahoma placed third. Competition Chair Dennis R. Ashley, AIA, LEED AP, DBIA, said, “The fifth year of our competition proved to be the most competitive to date. Each year the students outdo themselves in their creative design approach to the problem. This year the problem had many complexities that each team solved in a unique manner. The bar is certainly being raised for future competitions. ”

The competition began at the regional level with 31 teams of students from 23 universities competing.  Student teams from leading design, construction and engineering universities across the country entered the competition to demonstrate design-build best practices by proposing a delivery solution to design and construct a parking facility with recreational field and four classrooms. Nine regional winners were selected to compete in the second phase of the competition by responding to an RFP and the top three finalists were selected to present in Las Vegas.

Keith Molenaar, Ph.D., DBIA, and faculty advisor to the team said, “At the University of Colorado Boulder, we incorporate DBIA best practices into our design and construction courses.  However, it is challenging to teach students what it truly means to function as an integrated team. The DBIA National Student Competition provides our students with that experience.  I believe our team succeeded in this year’s competition due to the high level of cohesion that they achieved over the seven weeks of the intense competition.  It is an experience that will stay with them throughout their careers.”

The University of Colorado Boulder team included students from the Civil, Environmental and Architectural Engineering  Department:

  • Doug Alleman, Construction Engineering Management (team captain)
  • Shawn Sweeny, Architectural Engineering
  • Raymond Righi, Architectural Engineering
  • Charles Stephen Von Thaden, Structural Engineering
  • Nathan Klass, Civil Engineering

Faculty Advisor: Keith Molenaar, Ph.D., Professor and Associate Dean, College of Engineering and Applied Sciences, University of Colorado Boulder.


To learn more about the 2016 National Design-Build Student Competition, please visit the Student and Faculty section of the DBIA website.