ASCE CI Student Days Application Tips and Experience Attending

The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) Construction Institute (CI) holds an awesome annual event for students called CI Student Days. This is a jam-packed 4-day student competition where you prepare a bid package with your team and then present it to a panel of top construction professionals. All students who are accepted to attend will have hotel costs provided by CI, in addition to partial food and travel expenses. The 2023 CI Student Days will be held in Denver, CO from August 4th – 8th. Applications are due April 19th, so if you are interested, please make sure that you submit by the deadline! More information about the program and application can be found here:

Students are chosen to participate in this event through a competitive application process. I attended this event in 2016 and loved my experience so I wanted to share a few tips to help you with your 2023 application!

Students and Professionals at 2016 CI Student Days

Application Advice

You can review the full application here: Make sure that you are already a member of ASCE before filling this out! If you are not already an ASCE student member, you can join for free by filling out the quick form here.

Below is my advice for each question on the 2023 application:

  • Specialty Course Work – include here any technical and construction-related courses you have had here, but also if you have taken any speaking or technical writing courses!
  • Engineering or construction-related internships – here you would highlight any internships you have had. If you haven’t had any yet, I would use this space to talk about any engineering or research projects you have completed and what your role was on the team. Be sure to include any quantitative information that you can so the reviewers can get a good idea of the scope of your roles and leadership experience. Here I talked about the three internships and the impact I had at each one.
  • Area of Interest in Civil Engineering – This is a program focused on the construction industry so I would focus on what excites you about construction here. If you do have interdisciplinary interests, that is also okay to include, as you will bring a diverse perspective to the team.
  • Experience you have received in construction estimating, scheduling, proposal writing, and technical presentation speaking – Similar to the internship question, this can be through internships, classes during school, or even training you have taken outside of the classroom. In my application here I also wrote about the research I conducted during my first year at Drexel and the poster I created and presented at the end of that term.
  • Why do you want to attend Student Days? Go through the tentative programming and highlight a few things you are most looking forward to. Is it the Speed Networking Event where you will be able to network with your fellow students and industry professionals? Or perhaps the opportunity to refine your technical writing and presentation skills? Here I wrote about how I was considering a career in construction and wanted to learn more about how the classroom translates to practical application as well as network with fellow students and professionals in the construction industry.
  • Involvement in ASCE thus far – Use this space to talk about your volunteer and leadership roles in ASCE. If you have taken part in Concrete Canoe or any other ASCE competition, I would make sure to include that first or focus most of your response on this. Here I wrote about my current role at the time, Vice President of Drexel ASCE, and the previous roles I had held.

As this application also includes submitting a resume, I recommend reviewing our blog post on crafting your resume here: Additionally, if you are reading this before March 24th, you can get your resume reviewed for free as part of ASCE’s Resume Workshop:

While the Information for Team Selections section is not used for the acceptance selection process, I recommend highlighting your unique strengths and not being afraid to admit that you have little to no experience in some of the listed topics, such as scheduling. A great team is built by playing to each team member’s strengths, which means you don’t need to have in-depth knowledge of every topic listed.

My Experience Attending CI Student Days

I loved attending CI Student Days in August 2016! While I ultimately chose design over construction for my career post-graduation, our group did an excellent job putting together our proposal. It was impressive how we collaborated effectively despite not having known each other beforehand.

Group Photo of my CI Students Day Team

Recalling my time, it’s hard to imagine that all of this occurred in only four short days. I led a team of six in a three-day competition to create a complete bid package consisting of a cost estimate, schedule, and proposal. It was for a pedestrian bridge that is part of a $250 million bridge rehabilitation project to the Longfellow Bridge which connects Boston to Cambridge across the Charles River. Similar to the 2023 program, we had to present our bid in front of a panel of judges on the 2nd to last day. Throughout this competition, I was reminded that the real world is not as clean-cut as a textbook homework problem or a laboratory experiment would be. Overall, our team took their hurdles in stride and submitted something we were proud of. As I attended this at the end of my Junior year at Drexel, this was also a fantastic chance to prepare for Senior Design.

Beyond the technical side, we had several opportunities to explore the beautiful and historical city that is Boston. The first night, we went bowling with all the students, attendees, and professional volunteers. On day 2, we took part in a scavenger hunt through Downtown Boston as a team-building exercise. We learned how to navigate on the T, try some local seafood, and even visit the oldest bar in Boston! On day 3, we had the opportunity to tour the full Longfellow Bridge Project. During the technical tour, we got to see the full project as well as a site tour of the pedestrian bridge that was the scope of our bid package. A short video from our technical tour is on the Student Days website here:

Being the daughter of a carpenter, I grew up learning about construction and visiting various sites and was thrilled to see the combination of my field and my dad’s profession in motion on site. One of the nights, we also had a speed networking event where we got to speak with some of the professionals in the construction field and asked them about their journey. Sprinkled also within the four days were both technical and non-technical presentations to help us prepare our bid packages and learn about the many career opportunities within construction.

2016 Speed Networking Event

My favorite part was on the final day when one of the professionals spoke about what ASCE has done for his career and emphasized how to take advantage of all the programs offered by ASCE. Although there weren’t many women industry professionals as volunteers or speakers when I attended, I know that things have improved in recent years. In fact, there is now a Women in Construction panel!

Leading such a dedicated team was a true honor, and I appreciated the opportunity to meet high-caliber civil engineering students from across the nation. I am still in contact with a few of them and have loved following their professional careers.

Thank you to the entire CI Staff and volunteers who work hard to bring this annual program to fruition as well as Society-level ASCE for their support. It was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that enriched my college experience! I would recommend this experience to any civil engineering or construction management student who is considering a career in construction or looking for a future internship in the field. Good luck with your applications!

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