First-Time Contestants in NAHB Student Competition Eager to Reach National Stage

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Contact: Sarah Weber
sweber@nahb.org
(202) 266-8654

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As the International Builders’ Show (IBS) prepares for an unforgettable return to Las Vegas Jan. 31 to Feb. 2, some attendees are gearing up to make their first appearance in the annual NAHB Student Competition. The competition features students from across the country using the construction management skills learned in the classroom to address real world home building scenarios.

Kerwyn Jones-Wilson, the general contractor for Jones Construction & Design LLC and advisor for students at Gadsden Technical College in Quincy, Fla., is especially thrilled for this year’s competition. Gadsden students will be competing in the architecture track, presenting how they learned the unique requirements of designing a California home.

“Designing a home in California is obviously a lot different than designing a home in Florida,” Jones-Wilson said. “We had a lot of research to do on earthquakes and seismic conditions, since Florida home builders primarily focus on the wind. So our biggest challenge was learning an entirely different building code to build a house in an area we’re not familiar with.”

Gadsden County is a rural community with only one high school. Many of these students have never left the region, which is why it was an emotional moment when they learned they’d be traveling across the country to Las Vegas for IBS 2023.

“Some students started crying and cheering when they heard they’d be participating in the upcoming student competition,” Jones-Wilson said. “I am so thankful to provide them with this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. It’s going to make a lasting impact on them as they begin their careers in the construction industry.”

Dozens of other student groups will also be making their way to this year’s competition, including students from Bartow High School in Polk County, Fla. The group is led by Jimmy Giles, a former Bartow graduate who now teaches construction and cabinetmaking at the school. Giles continually finds fulfillment in educating others about the trades and motivating a new generation of students to pursue home building careers.

“As a school, it is an honor to go to any competition,” Giles said. “It is unbelievable as an instructor to compete at the highest level and gain exposure for our community.”

Although Bartow has experience participating in youth construction competitions locally, IBS 2023 will be the school’s first opportunity to compete nationally.

“The fact that we’re putting ourselves in front of all of these people is the greatest reward,” said Jordan Simpson, vice president of the Bartow High School Future Builders of America student chapter. “We must give it our all and work as a team with the same shared goal to best represent our school and our community. We cannot wait to deliver on the largest stage for students in construction.”

The NAHB Student Competition will take place in Las Vegas from Jan. 30 to Feb. 1. The student presentations are open to IBS attendees.

If you are interested in getting involved with a student chapter or starting a new chapter, contact Sarah Weber at sweber@nahb.org.

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