Final Four Competition

Mizzou MCAA Student Chapter Captures First Place in Final Four Competition


Named Student Chapter of the Year at MCAA National Convention

The Mechanical Contractors Association of America (MCAA) student chapter from the University of Missouri-Columbia captured First Place in the Final Four Competition at the MCAA National Convention in San Diego. The award, which included a $10,000 prize, was presented March 8 at a session featuring former Dallas Cowboys football player and the NFL’s all-time rushing leader, Emmitt Smith, as the keynote speaker.  The UMC chapter, although only three years in the making, also was named MCAA Student Chapter of the Year from among a total of 52 student chapters nationwide, receiving an additional $3,000.

Left to right: Graham Walter, John Beck, Tyler Culp, Shane Lowe, Zach Sifford and Nick Kniesche

Founded in 2014, the Mizzou student chapter is sponsored by the Mechanical Contractors Association of Eastern Missouri (MCA-EMO), based in St. Louis. The award announcement was made by George D. Corey, C.P.E., MCA-EMO president.

The 15-member student chapter participated in a number of training sessions and programs to help prepare them for this year’s Final Four. During 2016 St. Louis-based mechanical contractors traveled to Columbia to facilitate seven training sessions on piping design, scheduling, commissioning, system trainings, etc.  Student chapter members also made several job site visits and attended an MCA-EMO chapter meeting, the 2016 MCAA National Convention in Orlando and the MCAA Student Chapter Summit in Denver, CO.  They also organized and held the first annual Mizzou MCAA Golf Classic and attended the MCA-EMO annual golf tournament, raising over $4,300 towards student chapter activities.  Students also participated in the UMC Engineering Career Fair with more than 175 companies participating. Several of the students also had summer internships with MCA-EMO members and some graduating seniors have accepted positions with area contractors.

Malcolm Sweet, general manager of Integrated Facility Services in St. Louis, chaired the MCA-EMO Committee that helped found the student chapter,  “Our student chapter went from learning the basics in year one, to placing 10th out of 30 in year two,  and ultimately taking First Place nationally in year three,” said Sweet.  “We knew they would do well and were ‘pleasantly stunned’ when we learned they were in the Final Four this year because they were competing against some highly experienced university teams.  As far as the St. Louis contractors were concerned, just being in the finals was a huge win, no matter where they eventually would place.   We are so proud of the fact they worked hard, learned, competed and won.  Their selection as Chapter of the Year was icing on the cake and a tremendous accolade and validation of everyone’s hard work.”

Sweet noted that two of his colleagues, Greg Harrop of Haberberger, Inc. and Jeff Rush, P.E. of icon Mechanical, Inc., spent countless hours helping the team during the past few years.  Also, he feels that former student chapter president, Austin Miller, laid a great infrastructure for this year’s chapter.

The students’ winning project involved presenting plans, bids, drawings, schedules and costs on a $3 million wastewater treatment plant upgrade to a panel of contractors from across the U.S.   Their fictitious company (for purposes of the competition) was named Arrow Mechanical, Inc.

According to Harrop, who serves as the committee chairman for the MCA-EMO 2017 Student Chapter, “Malcolm, Jeff and I were confident that the students had prepared well for the competition, but it cannot be overstated how much credit they all deserve for exceeding expectations and overcoming the stiff competition from the other schools.  It is amazing that they won the competition in such a short time frame and also secured the student Chapter of the Year award to boot,” added  Harrop.

“We are very proud of our student chapter for all they have accomplished,” said Kristy Stephens, executive director of MCA-EMO, who also attended the MCA National Convention in San Diego.  “I want to thank our member contractors who put a lot of effort and time into supporting our students.  They provided invaluable industry knowledge and training that gives students a ‘real-world’ look into mechanical contracting. Also, Lawrence Schilke, P.E., managing engineer, UMC, is a wonderful faculty advisor.  Together, they provided a great foundation for future careers in our industry.”

The Final Four student presenters included Nick Kniesche (Eureka MO), chapter president; Tyler Culp (Joplin, MO), chapter vice-president; Graham Walter (Prairie Village, KS), chapter treasurer; John Beck (Shawnee, KS), chapter media coordinator; Zach Sifford (St. Charles, MO); and Shane Lowe (Kearney, MO).

Photo Above –  MCAA Student Chapter Team w/advisors & Emmitt Smith – BACK ROW (left to right): George Corey, MCA-EMO  President, Mechanical Solutions, Inc.); Larry Schilke, Student Chapter Advisor; Graham Walter, Emmitt Smith, Nick Kniesche, John Beck, Mike Hurley, Rock Hill Mechanical Corporation; FRONT ROW (left to right):  Tyler Culp, Shane Lowe, Zach Sifford

MCA-EMO offers programs crucial to the ongoing success of contractors and vendors operating within the construction industry in Eastern Missouri. For over 70 years, the MCA has sponsored cost-effective educational opportunities taught by qualified and experienced professionals in the MCA Training Center.