Unit Design Competition

How to Set Up a Local Design Competition

At a local college or university

The Unit Design Competition enables local concrete masonry producers and/or associations to work in conjunction with universities to sponsor competitions. Here’s how you set one up.

The best place to start is with the Dean of the College of Architecture.

You can refer the Dean to the NCMA Foundation web site where there are examples of competitions that have been conducted at other schools in previous years. After you get the Dean interested, ask for permission to discuss this with professor of the architectural materials class. This class usually conducts the competition.

Explain to them that your company or local association will be sponsoring the competition. Explain also that the winner of the local competition will be invited to participate in the national competition which is completely funded by a grant from the NCMA Foundation. The top three teams from the national competition will be invited to make a presentation at the NCMA Midyear meeting generally in late July or early August. All travel expenses for the top three teams will be paid by the NCMA Foundation.



No stipend is given to the professor. Most of the schools will not allow the professor to accept it.

Your Responsibilities


1. Set up a block plant tour for the students so that they become fully versed on how a block machine and/or big board machine works.

2. Explain the objectives for unit design competition

3. Arrange for a jury typically consisting of the following:

  • Local Architect
  • Local Landscape Architect
  • Local Mason Contractor
  • Local Producer

Jurors generally do this gratis and don’t charge – most consider it to be an honor. You might want to set up refreshments of some type.

4. Provide the prizes and certificates. Typical awards are:

  • 1st: $250/team & Certificates
  • 2nd: $150/team & Certificates
  • 3rd: $100/team & Certificates
  • Honorable Mention Certificates

Additional Questions


Another good place for information and tips on setting up a competition are professors who have conducted these competitions at other universities. NCMA staff can assist with making contacts.