Construction Management builds Homecoming float dynasty

The CSU Department of Construction Management wins the Overall Sweepstakes Award during the 2012 Colorado State University Homecoming Parade, October 5, 2012.

If you’re a construction management major when Homecoming and Family Weekend rolls around, there’s a palpable competitive edge in the air.

Owning the dynasty for producing the winningest floats in CSU Homecoming history is serious business for the construction management department’s student board of directors. This group is responsible for planning, designing, and recruiting volunteers for the department’s parade float every year. This year’s parade theme, “This is our time,” is tailor-made for them. It’s apparent that they’ve nailed down a winning system because they’ve received first place in the parade’s overall sweepstakes or CSU division every year for the past decade. An impressive display of Ram Pride!

Putting together the winning streak hasn’t been easy. There is always hefty competition including 80 to 90 teams representing both campus and community. CSU entries include student organizations, academic programs, fraternities and sororities, the marching band and spirit squad, among others. Community entries include local businesses, nonprofits, sports organizations and schools. The panel of judges represents town and gown as well.

“We may have an unfair advantage,” says Anna Fontana, the department’s internship and outreach coordinator. “We have great lab and shop facilities fully equipped with tools, equipment and students who know how to use them.”

Secret to success

Given their access to resources and talent, it’s easy to see why they win. Yet the secret to their success might have as much to do with process as production. The student board gets a new crop of officers every December, so continuity and organization are key. Fontana assists the board with ideas and resources, but credits faculty member Scott Glick with facilitating the design and construction of the float. Students take it from there, putting their skills and toolkits to work on creative designs such as last year’s winning entry, a past and present look at construction professions.

“We always have a really talented group of people working on the floats,” says Kayla Boos (’14), who served on the student board and has participated on the winning homecoming team every year she was a student and now works as a pre-construction management advisor and student recruitment coordinator. “Anywhere from 15 to 20 students help build the float, volunteering at night and weekends. Ten to 15 take part on the day of the parade.”

Other parade float teams are quick to point out how helpful the construction management team has been. Their advice to this year’s hopefuls? “Under-promise and over-deliver.” Boos says it’s easy to come up with a really great idea, and much harder to make it happen. “Plan ahead, work hard, and have fun.”

The task is a bit easier for alumni, families and friends who just want to see the parade. Skip the work part and simply plan to have fun! After all, parade participants put in all the effort to share their Ram pride and make people smile.

Don’t miss this year’s contenders at the Homecoming Parade on Friday, Oct. 16, when it steps off from the corner of Oak and Howes streets at 4:30 p.m.