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Pitt State construction students clinch national win and $20,000 prize

A Pittsburg State University team from the School of Construction have emerged as champions in the “Final Four” MCAA Student Chapter Competition in Phoenix, Arizona, hosted by the Mechanical Contractors Association of America.

The chapter’s impressive $10,000 prize will be matched by MCA of Kansas City, for a total of $20,000.

“Congratulations to team members Graham Hudelson, Zach Hutchings, Michael Marinakis, Hunter Helmer, Aiden Wolownik, and Gianni Piccini for all that they put in to achieving this goal — they are a spectacular group” said the team’s academic advisor, Professor Shannon Nicklaus. “We’re so proud of them, and the job offers will be rolling in.”

The team was one of 22 chapters out of the 48 chapters across the nation to submit a proposal for a national energy project last fall and one of four to qualify to advance to the Final Four, which was held last week.

The challenge: install three 1000-ton cooling towers, six 6000-mbh boilers, a sewer heat recovery system, heat exchangers, pumps, piping, and supporting infrastructure as part of a new energy facility that would heat and cool several buildings on the National Western Center campus.

Modeled after an actual facility to be built in Denver, Colorado, it is a huge step forward in de-carbonizing commercial buildings and will be the largest sewer heat recovery system in North America.

In September, they presented to senior leaders in mechanical contractor companies across the U.S. who then chose the top four proposals to send to the national competition this spring.

In Phoenix, they presented their proposal and answered judges’ questions in front of 600 to 800 people.
While there, they also attended a large convention where they heard speakers such as Mike Rowe of “Dirty Jobs,” and tennis legend John McEnroe, attended break-out sessions and educational seminars, and more.

As a result of their win, the team has been invited by Lynn Mueller, president and CEO of Sharc Energy, which manufactured and supplied the SHARC sewage heat exchange that was installed in the National Western Centre in Denver, to Denver to see the system live.

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