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Introduction To Estimating And Bidding Using A Flagpole

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2009 Annual Conference & Exposition


Austin, Texas

Publication Date

June 14, 2009

Start Date

June 14, 2009

End Date

June 17, 2009



Conference Session

Innovation in Construction Engineering Education I

Tagged Division


Page Count


Page Numbers

14.814.1 - 14.814.7



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Paper Authors

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Kris Mattila Michigan Technological University

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Introduction to Estimating and Bidding Using a Flagpole


In order to introduce the concepts of estimating an exercise was developed to assist students with little or no construction experience. The in class exercise is to estimate the cost to install a 25 foot aluminum flagpole and foundation. Material, labor and equipment costs are provided to the students in addition to specifications, drawings and a bid form. This paper will explain the exercise and examine the results from over 500 students that have participated in the exercise. The student result will be compared to published prices for installation of similar flagpoles. A follow-up exercise uses the flagpole as an introduction to shop drawings where students review and submit a shop drawing of a flagpole.

Course Background

The three credit course, Fundamentals of Construction Engineering, is required for all Civil Engineering students in Civil and Environmental Engineering at Michigan Technological University. The class is available to sophomores and has a typical enrollment of 60. The author has described this as a “smorgasbord” course since numerous construction topics are included. This “smorgasbord” of topics includes a construction industry overview, common construction terminology, contracts, project delivery systems, cash flow, equipment ownership, equipment productivity, estimating, planning, scheduling, quality and safety. With this broad range of topics it is difficult to cover things in depth. Therefore, it is important to illustrate topics in a meaningful manner.

The author has taught the course 19 times and has tried to develop techniques that are not only interesting to the student but keeps the instructor interested and excited about the material. The exercise presented in this paper, an introduction to estimating and bidding is one of those.

What is estimating and bidding?

Those who have taught estimating or who have worked in the construction industry are able to describe what estimating is. However, for 19 or 20 year old college students with limited experience it may be difficult.

When I was a student, my college dictionary would be the first place that I would look for an answer. Random House’s definition is “to make an approximate calculation of (value, amount, size, etc.1)” Today’s student would look online. The online Merriam-Webster dictionary provides this definition as a noun: “the act of appraising or valuing” and as a verb: “to judge tentatively or approximately the value, worth, or significance of.2” Another place on the web that students would look would be Wikipedia where the definition of “Estimation is the calculated approximation of a result which is usable even if input data may be incomplete or uncertain.3” If a student followed the link to estimation related to project management they would find the following definition: “In project management (i.e., for engineering), accurate

Mattila, K. (2009, June), Introduction To Estimating And Bidding Using A Flagpole Paper presented at 2009 Annual Conference & Exposition, Austin, Texas. 10.18260/1-2--5036

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