Wayne State University's NECA student chapter prepares for 16th annual ECIC Challenge

Members of Wayne State's NECA student chapter

The Wayne State University student chapter of the National Electrical Contractors Association (NECA) is gearing up to participate in the 16th annual Electrical Contracting Innovation Challenge (ECIC), hosted by ELECTRI International. As seasoned contenders and past winners, this marks the eighth consecutive year a team of seniors in Wayne State’s construction management (CMT) program has entered this prestigious competition, showcasing the university's enduring commitment to providing opportunities for hands-on experience and closing the gap between academics and industry.

The ECIC presents a unique challenge centered around the electrical contracting sector. Participants are tasked with crafting an electrical proposal for a designated building, which this year is Trimble’s corporate headquarters in Westminster, Colorado. The 2024 challenge took a futuristic turn, focusing heavily on the integration of building information modeling (BIM) technology.

Joseph Vaglica, assistant professor of teaching and CMT director, integrates the competition annually into Wayne State’s senior capstone program. He emphasized the significance of this challenge, stating that "participating in the ECIC offers unparalleled academic and professional growth opportunities. By tackling real-world challenges alongside seasoned electrical contractors, we have fortified our skill sets, expanding our capabilities within the industry."

Equipped with cutting-edge software and technology, students dedicated several sessions each week throughout the semester to meticulously develop a comprehensive and high-quality proposal. A review panel will select finalists to make oral presentations at the NECA Convention and Award Ceremony in San Diego to conclude the competition on Saturday, Sept. 28.

A pivotal aspect of the team’s success so far was the invaluable collaboration with NECA and their partnering electrical contractor, Hatzel and Buehler. Their expertise and industry insights were instrumental in deciphering the complexities of the challenge and ensuring a professional caliber of work.

"The challenge demanded an extensive collaborative effort, emphasizing meticulous attention to detail," said Vaglica. "Our responsibilities encompassed developing prefabrication plans, crafting installation drawings, and constructing a detailed BIM model, among other intricate tasks."

The class of 28 students strategically divided into smaller teams, each contributing uniquely to the project while acquiring invaluable expertise in BIM technology.

"Being able to participate in a national competition that benefits students both academically and professionally has been incredibly fulfilling,” said Claudia Rea, president of Wayne State’s NECA chapter. “We have worked extensively on this project and are very proud of our teamwork and collaboration. Being given real-world challenges ― and having Hatzel and Buehler to guide us through them ― has been very rewarding."

"We extend our heartfelt gratitude to Jason Head and Jaime Bochenek of NECA for their steadfast support of our program," added Vaglica. "Additionally, our deepest appreciation goes to Matt Beck, Storm Raven, and Tim Flum of Hatzel and Buehler for generously volunteering their time and expertise every week, guiding us towards excellence in this challenging endeavor."

Follow the Wayne State NECA team on Instagram for competition updates through the summer.

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