Construct Your Future
by Jourdyn Heilinger, Staff Writer

Six teenage girls in bright orange reflecting vests, pink hard hats, and Ugg boots might look ridiculous to most people. But, to everyone at the Construction Challenge Finals, this was just another day of competition. Lauren Wargelin, Evin McMullen (Hawken), Lindsay Wargelin, Jourdyn Heilinger, Allison Tyree, and Jenny Wajahn proudly represented West Geauga High School at the Construction Challenge Finals in Las Vegas on March 10-14.
The streets of Las Vegas were more crowded than normal the second week of March. Las Vegas is home of the largest expo in the world, CONEXPO-CON/AGG. People in the construction field from all across the country came to represent their companies and collect swag bags from companies like Caterpillar, Volvo, John Deere, Bobcat, and Hyundai. Hundreds of cranes, excavators, and other various machines created an interesting skyline, along with the booths and demonstrations set up all week. With the competition just hours away, the girls had little time to peruse the convention; they were deeply concentrated on fine tuning their equipment and reviewing their notes for the debate.
Like the regional rally, the finals consisted of three separate competitions— the debate, road warrior, and product development. In the debate, teams were paired with one another and worked together to research and come up with a solution to a problem. They then debated each other’s solutions for the appraisers. Teams also had to create an education product that would educate a specific audience on construction careers and equipment. In the road warrior competition, teams had months (in advance) to build equipment that would fix a bridge, level an aggregate road, and lay pipe. They also had to build a vehicle or device that would transport as much aggregate as they could over their previously repaired course. The night before they competed, they were paired with another team. The teams would work together to repair the roadway, then compete against each other to transport the most aggregate.
During their practice session the night before they competed, the girls ran into an unexpected road block. After testing the equipment on the practice course, they realized the machine they made to carry aggregate would be insufficient. Luckily for them, the CVS across the street from their hotel had the right supplies needed to make the necessary adjustments. They stayed up all night to rebuild their machines. At the competition, the two teams worked together greatly. It was this amazing teamwork that won both teams an award. “We would not have been able to tell the two teams apart had it not been for the red and blue hardhats!” exclaimed head appraiser, Andrew Whitmore.
A second part of the challenge was to develop an educational product. With a lack of women in the construction industry, the girls found it fitting to aim their product towards young girls. They designed an activity book including coloring pages, a fairytale-like story, and activity pages. Numerous activity pages and games help young children learn the difference between tools, machines, and safety equipment.
Similar to the regional rally, the girls won the debate and product development sections of the challenge. But, because of their average performance in the road warrior competition, they placed 3rd overall. The girls won fabulous prizes, including portable DVD players, digital cameras, a $100 gift card, and $500 scholarships. Just in case these prizes weren’t enough, this competition has opened many new doors to them. Countless companies are interested in publishing their activity book, and they have been offered a trip to Colorado to present they book to CEO’s of some companies. Destination Imagination would also like to pay for the girls to attend their global finals in May.
“This has been the experience of a lifetime,” said Jenny Wajahn. “We have been offered some amazing opportunities and can’t wait to see where this will take us.”