The Association of Equipment Manufacturers (AEM) has created the National Construction Challenge, a youth-oriented critical thinking and creative problem-solving competition.
The National Construction Challenge is part of AEM’s ongoing efforts to attract young people into the construction industry in professions ranging from manufacturing to in-the-field careers. The challenge will focus on three areas: awareness of construction-related jobs, construction equipment and manufacturing and infrastructure awareness.
AEM is urging member companies as well as others in the construction industry to sponsor teams of high school students to participate in the challenge finals. Sponsorships help defray the cost for team participation, including travel expenses, hotel accommodations and team apparel. Teams consist of five to seven students. Each sponsor receives promotion opportunities related to the challenge.
Through sponsorship, companies enable students to take advantage of this endeavor and develop critical life and job skills such as teamwork and strategic thinking. Sponsoring companies, through their support of challenge teams, directly advance industry efforts to ensure a talented workforce for the future.
The AEM National Construction Challenge in addition is intended to focus attention on the importance of the construction industry and the benefits it provides.
“The challenge is also about having fun, and we’ve structured it to generate excitement among the young people and adults who will be involved,” said AEM Marketing Director Nicole Hallada.
Hallada noted that Destination ImagiNation was a natural choice to implement the AEM endeavor.
“Destination ImagiNation has a 25-year track record of involving millions of young people in team-based creative problem solving challenges requiring critical thinking skills,” Hallada said. “They were the logical ones to go to when we decided to launch a unique and exciting challenge program aimed at identifying and motivating young people to join the construction industry.”
The AEM National Construction Challenge includes six regional events to be held across the United States in January 2008. Winning teams qualify to participate in the National Construction Challenge finals competition, to be held March 2008 during AEM’s international ConExpo-Con/AGG exposition in Las Vegas.
The challenge finals will feature approximately 60 teams of high school students and include a “dialog” segment on infrastructure awareness, especially roads/highways and water/sewer; a “product development” segment on awareness of construction-related jobs; and a “road warrior” segment involving construction equipment and manufacturing.
Regional rallies for the AEM National Construction Challenge finals will be held in the West (California), Southeast (Georgia), East/New England (New Jersey), East Central (Ohio), Southeast (Texas) and Midwest (Wisconsin). More information will be provided as details are finalized.
To further promote the construction industry to young people, AEM also is sponsoring the 2007 “global finals” of Destination ImagiNation’s flagship team challenges program, in particular the Direct Flight challenge. In this challenge, teams create aircraft as well as mechanisms to raise and release them, perform aerial maneuvers and then successfully land the aircraft in designated landing zones. The team-challenge finals for this Destination ImagiNation event occur in May 2007 at the University of Tennessee — Knoxville.
Industry Faces Growing Workforce Shortages
The construction industry faces a continuing shortage of skilled workers to manufacture, maintain and operate technologically sophisticated construction equipment, noted AEM. The association cited data that the average age of workers in the industry is 52, with their pending retirements reducing the talent pool at the same time that the industry is predicted to add 1 million jobs by the year 2012.
For more information, call 414/298-4114 or visit www.aem.org.
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