A New "Challenge" for Construction

Over the past several weeks, I've enjoyed watching my fourth grader tap into her rather vivid imagination as a member of her school's Destination ImagiNation team. As part of the program, each team selects from a list of challenges, ranging from building your own working glider to conducting scientific experiments.

My daughter's team eventually settled on a chance to be "CSI-like" sleuths solving a mysterious crime. The challenge entails collectively developing a script, building a light source and creating side vignettes that further tell their story. Each team must also learn to quickly and creatively solve unrelated challenges by working together using a few tools and a lot of initiative. This may seem a lot to ask of a bunch of 9- and 10-year olds, but they are enthusiastically rising to the task.

This unique program is the brainchild of Destination ImagiNation Inc., a non-profit organization that develops creative problem-solving and critical thinking skills programs for individuals of all ages. The programs capitalize on students' creativity, while providing a great learning experience and building teamwork skills.

Given my daughter's experiences, I was pleased to learn that Cygnus Business Media (along with Multiquip Inc. and Liebherr Construction Equipment) is one of the first sponsors of the National Construction Challenge. This special youth-oriented competition was developed by the Association of Equipment Manufacturers (AEM) in partnership with Destination ImagiNation. It is part of AEM's ongoing efforts to attract the "best and brightest" young people into the construction industry in professions ranging from manufacturing to careers in the field.

The National Construction Challenge will focus on three areas: awareness of construction-related jobs; construction equipment and manufacturing; and infrastructure awareness. "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," says Nicole Hallada, AEM marketing director.

Six regional events will be held across the country in January 2008. Winning teams qualify to participate in the finals competition, which will be held in March 2008 during AEM's CONEXPO-CON/AGG exposition in Las Vegas.

The finals competition - featuring some 60 teams of high school students - will include a "dialog" segment on infrastructure awareness; a "product development" segment on awareness of construction-related jobs; and a "road warrior" segment involving construction equipment and manufacturing.

Because the program will help to advance the construction industry, as well as foster tomorrow's workforce, AEM is urging member companies and others in the construction industry to sponsor teams participating in the finals. Sponsorships will help to defray travel and other costs of team participation.

To learn more about the challenge, as well as sponsorship opportunities, contact AEM's Stacy Wessel at (414) 298-4144; e-mail: swessel@aem.org. Whether you act as a sponsor, or simply promote the program at your local schools, you will be helping to expose tomorrow's workers to the many possibilities this industry has to offer. ?

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