Tips for a successful ARC Awards entry

Adapted from Building Design + Constructions "How to Win" Tip Sheet

By Consulting-Specifying Engineer staff May 16, 2008

1. Describe obstacles, challenges, issues, problems, and . How did the team attack the problems posed by the project? Any new approaches? Innovations? Remember, give results , both quantitative ( money saved, time saved, profitability, etc.) and qualitative (testimonials, quotes from satisfied client, other “soft” evidence of success). Tell us what lessons you learned from the project.

2. Tell the “story” of the project. Consulting-Specifying Engineer is a magazine. We need to give our readers a great read, and winning projects should have a compelling story—getting a project built in record time, overcoming weather or other catastrophes, solving unexpected problems that come up in the course of the project. Yes, we want the technical information, but make sure the “narrative” doesn’t get lost in your presentation.

3. Let your images sell your entry. . Put all your images on a CD, and print them out on a separate sheet—with captions explaining what point the photo or image illustrates. Why did you choose this photo or diagram? How does it advance your entry? Use your images to make your case and sell your project to the judges. Very important.

4. Be specific in describing “collaboration.” Again, we get a lot of entries that say, “We held weekly meetings of the Building Team” or “We used Project Management software to keep in touch.” Big deal! That’s baseline. We want to know more detail about how you worked together, especially how you worked with the owner, end users, and stakeholders, not just the

5. Describe the end user, client, customer, and public involvement in detail. If you’re submitting a hospital project, how was the nursing staff involved? How about patients and their families? For a retail project—did you do any research on customer needs or preferences? For public projects, how did you keep taxpayers, government officials, and ordinary citizens involved? Entries that demonstrate a strong commitment to assessing and meeting the needs of the ultimate “end users” (not just the one who’s paying the bill) score more points.

6. Don’t be afraid to toot your horn. Of course, we’re not interested in getting entries with inflated claims. But the judges do need to justify their decision, and you have the most complete information about your project.

So, let us know if the project has won other awards. Include press clippings, reprints, etc. Get letters of support and testimonials from end users and clients, but make them specific—not “The team did a great job and were a pleasure to work with,” but “Through clever design and rigorous engineering and construction methods, the team saved our city $1.3 million in costs on this project.”

7. Show how you went beyond standard practice. Dido try an unusual technical solution. Our readers are interested in what’s new.

8. Put yourself in the judges’ shoes. Ask yourself: Have I made a compelling case for our project? Is there a logic to the presentation? Is it readable? Is the type large enough? Did I make it easy for the judges to grasp our argument?

We’re not interested in fancy presentations. Use yellow marker to highlight key points. Point arrows to crucial details in drawings or photos. Underline key points. We have a lot of entries to review… make it easy for the judges to read yours.

9. One last bit of advice: Ask someone who is not familiar with the project to read your entry. If that person has questions, you might want to rework your submission.

10. Read the judge’s score sheet. Know how you will be scored and ensure your entry will score high marks. View the score sheet here .

Good luck!