The Art of the Bid

TCIC students compete in an annual event that prepares them for the rigors of the bid process
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Placing a winning bid is much harder than it seems, especially for those new to the industry. The Construction Institute of Canada’s (TCIC) National Simulated Student Bid Competition is an annual event created to prepare future generations of construction professionals for the rigors of the bid process.

With so much focus on workflows and processes, the prospective leaders of construction are often missing out on learning a crucial step to starting a job: placing a winning bid. While most firms use a procurement department, some smaller businesses don’t have that luxury. Also, understanding the bid process can help prepare new workers as they can receive an outline of the job’s requirements, expectations and crucial dates, and gain a better understanding of the build process.

TCIC hosts an annual competition sponsored by companies like Walsh Group, Bluebeam, Bird Construction, Aecon, Turner and PCL, aimed at creating real-world bid and estimation scenarios for third- and fourth-year students. Over 200 students from seven different schools were on hand for the event, with five construction associations involved as well. Industry mentors from the sponsoring companies, such as Bird Construction Technical Director Compton Cho, shared insights with the students to help their entries, which were based on real-life bid scenarios. The students were required to adhere to a set of contract documents with winners announced in three categories; most professional conduct, most accurate and complete bid package, and closest to the target price, with awards also given for BIM usage.

TCIC Simulated Student Bid Competition Categories and Prizes (for 1st, 2nd and 3rd place finishes):

  • Most Accurate and Most Complete Bid ($2,000, $1,000, $500)
  • Closest to Target Price ($1,000, $500, $250)
  • Most Professional Bid ($1,000, $500, $250)
  • BIM ($750, $500, $250)

In this year’s contest, 47 out of the 67 bids were found to be compliant, which shows the value of TCIC’s competition in training up-and-coming professionals. This number may seem low, but simply getting a bid submitted was a huge accomplishment for the students. Interestingly, just as in the real world, a team with a noncompliant bid can appeal if they believe they have a case. Many teams did appeal, and some won their appeal and even went on to win awards. A shorthanded team from BKPS won second place in the Most Accurate and Most Complete Bid category (the most prestigious category).

“Our team, BKPS Construction, found that using Bluebeam Studio to takeoff material quantities and obtain accurate measurements was very beneficial in keeping us organized and productive,” said participant Alex Paul. “Since two of our four team members were on exchange in Coventry, UK, during the entire competition, communication was also very crucial to our success, and Bluebeam allowed us to keep records of our takeoffs on each drawing and review each other’s measurements to ensure our bid was thorough and accurate.”

Even though the team members were thousands of miles apart, Bluebeam Revu filled the void and provided an environment for many of the students to collaborate and stay on track.

“If you don’t win work, you don’t have work and to have work you need to estimate it,” explained honorary chairman of the bid competition and Vice President of Walsh Canada Craig Lesurf. “You need to know how much it’s going to cost, how you’re going to do it and some of the logistics. Employers are looking for these types of skills. We’re looking for the next generation of leaders.”