Holly DenfeldHolly Denfeld has been selected as the first-place winner of the 2018 James L. Allhands Essay Contest by the board of directors of the Associated General Contractors (AGC) Education and Research Foundation.

“Holly’s essay titled, ‘The Power of Inspiration in Managing the Labor Shortage in the Construction Industry’ was original and well-researched. It is a fine example of the type of writing regarding the construction industry that exemplified the work of Mr. Allhands,” said Melinda D. Patrician, executive director of the AGC Education and Research Foundation. “We have been watching Holly’s academic career with interest since she became an AGC Foundation Scholarship recipient and are particularly delighted in her accomplishments!”

Denfeld is a senior at MSOE and is double-majoring in architectural engineering (electrical specialty) and construction management, and minoring in business management. She has gained real-world experience through internships at Miron Construction, Mortenson Construction, and Geiger + Larson Engineering, a division of RTM & Associates. On campus, Denfeld serves as president of ASCE student chapter at MSOE. She is also active in Habitat for Humanity and worked on Kayla’s Playground in Franklin, Wisconsin. She has accepted an offer from Miron Construction as a project manager, and will begin her full-time career with them after graduation in Spring 2018.

A total of 11 essays were submitted for the contest this year, representing a very high caliber of talent. Each essay was carefully evaluated by AGC committee members, who are among the most esteemed leaders in the construction industry. The topic for the 2018 competition was “The challenges and opportunities of managing a construction project in a competitive labor market.” AGC’s Construction Hiring and Business Outlook Report for 2017 identified the biggest concern among construction companies was worker shortages. This presents management issues such as the increasing cost of labor and supervision due to increased demand for a limited resource. The reliance on the use of inexperienced skilled labor may also present a major challenge to the health and safety of workers. Students were asked to address these points in their essays, using research and examples to support their position.

Outside the classroom, Denfeld is an award-winning athlete on MSOE’s women’s basketball and track and field teams.