Penn State comes in 2nd at 2019 NAHB Student Competition


UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) student chapter at Penn State won second place in the Four-Year College category of the NAHB Student Competition held at the 2019 NAHB International Builders’ Show (IBS) in Las Vegas.

Fifty-seven teams representing universities, community colleges, high schools and career technical schools across the U.S. participated in the annual competition. The competition challenges student teams to solve a real-life construction management problem and develop a proposal for a residential subdivision. After developing their solutions in the fall semester, teams travel and present their work to a panel of residential construction industry executive judges at IBS in the spring semester.

“Congratulations to the NAHB student chapter at Penn State,” said Jerry Howard, CEO of NAHB. “They and their competitors showed a great deal of talent along with a depth of understanding of building industry management, from land development to marketing to scheduling to estimating.”

The provided competition site was a 152-acre site in Coweta, Oklahoma. The Penn State team developed a 100-page proposal for a 290 single-family home subdivision that included six different floorplans built to meet the silver rating from the National Green Building Standard and a HERS Index score of 68 for the base package mid-line home. The proposal also included thoroughly vetted market, financial and risk analyses and a land development plan. Requiring an interdisciplinary team of students to address the various aspects, the project team consisted of students majoring in architecture, architectural engineering, civil engineering, corporate innovation and entrepreneurship, and finance.

The 2018-2019 presentation team included: Lauren Lesniakowski, architectural engineering, as project manager; Drew Kreamer, architectural engineering; Justin Charles, architectural engineering; Mark DuBree, Jr., corporate innovation and entrepreneurship; David Gawryla, architectural engineering; and James Porter, finance.

Additional team members included: Jonathan Gottlieb, civil engineering; Kristin Roy, architecture; and Matthew Yerk, architectural engineering.

Students appreciate the ability to work across disciplines and gain experience in the residential construction industry. “With much of my engineering background being based in commercial building design, it was such a blessing to find the Pennsylvania Housing Research Center (PHRC) and NAHB student chapter at Penn State,” said Lesniakowski. “Being able to compete in such an involved residential project for the past two years has opened my eyes to all the potential career paths I could take with my education. The semester-long project combines disciplines from different departments including students from Smeal College of Business, multiple engineering departments within the College of Engineering, and even some involvement from the Eberly College of Science. This competition has given me invaluable skills in problem-solving and has given me the opportunity to expand on topics outside of my immediate major such as marketing, finance, land development, and real estate.”

The student team was coached by staff of the Pennsylvania Housing Research Center (PHRC): Brian Wolfgang, associate director, and Chris Hine, housing and land development specialist. The PHRC is housed in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering and supports the residential construction program at Penn State.

Penn State’s competition team has been fortunate to build on the momentum that has been built up over the past few years. Our focus on a multidisciplinary approach has not only allowed students to work with peers outside of the major but has also allowed for a well-rounded approach to the competition overall. This project asks a lot of our students but we continue to hear feedback that the hard work the students put in on this project truly helps to strengthen the foundation for their future careers,” said Wolfgang.

The 2018-2019 team travel support was generously provided by the Toll Brothers IBS Travel Grant, the National Housing Endowment IBS Travel Award and the University Park Allocation Committee. Since 2006, the NAHB student chapter at Penn State has competed in the NAHB Student Competition at IBS with their previous first place wins in 2015 and 2018.


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Rachel Fawcett

“Being able to compete in such an involved residential project for the past two years has opened my eyes to all the potential career paths I could take with my education.”
Lauren Lesniakowski, architectural engineering



Widely acknowledged as one of the top Architectural Engineering programs in the world, the Penn State AE Department is dedicated to providing outstanding academic excellence to all of our students. The AE program is focused on preparing students and conducting research in the design, engineering, and construction of building projects.

Department of Architectural Engineering

104 Engineering Unit A

The Pennsylvania State University

University Park, PA 16802

Phone: 814-865-6394