University of Nebraska–Lincoln

NCEES Engineering Education Award $10,000 winner

Charles W. Durham School of Architectural Engineering and Construction

Project: Virginia Tech War Memorial Hall: Integrative Team Design


Students: Stephanie Ahrens, Noor Albahrani, Juhaina Alnabhani, Ali Al Lawati, Thuraiya Alwashahi, Nicole Aschoff, Richard Branton, Jenny Briggs, Jonathan Brito Mendoza, Meredith Butler, Kevin Chesire, Nathan German, Adam Hansen, Andrew Heithoff, Matt Long, Jacob Marsh, Emily McCann, Colin Miller, Kevin O’Connell, Dalton Rabe, Jonah Sandin, Nathan Schmidt, Mitchael Sieh, Jennifer Solheim, Ryon Sommerer, Kelsey Stithem, Ben Stodola, Samuel Underwood, David Uwinganji Gatete, and Andi Walter

Faculty: Clarence Waters, Ph.D., P.E.; Todd Feldman, S.E.; and Doug Nelsen, P.E.

Professional Engineers: Adam Brumbaugh, P.E.; Shane Cherney, P.E.; Ryan Curtis, P.E.; Darren Dageforde, P.E.; Dan Dellovechio, P.E.; James Dougherty, P.E.; Matt Enstrom, P.E.; Don Foster, P.E.; James Franks, P.E.; Abby Goranson, P.E.; Eric Granzow, P.E.; Sam Haberman, P.E.; Todd Herrmann, P.E.; Trevor Hollins, P.E.; Tyler Hopson, P.E.; Ken Kilzer, S.E.; Eric Kamin, P.E.; Dan Karnes, P.E.; Todd Kielty, P.E.; Tim Koch, P.E.; Brent Kraay, P.E.; Dmitri Lamianski, P.E.; Lisa Lyons, P.E.; Todd Mack, P.E.; David Manley, P.E.; Jake McConnell, S.E.; Tim Morrison, S.E.; Brian Nevole, P.E.; Ron Ostendorf, P.E.; Jenn Puhlman, P.E.; Jake Pulfer, P.E.; Beth Redding, P.E.; Chris Reed, P.E.; Ben Ries, P.E.; Andrew Roche, P.E.; Jason Rohe, P.E.; Cary Schroeder, S.E.; Joe Selzle, P.E.; Alex Skillman, P.E.; Nate Timm, P.E.; Pete Uhing, P.E.; Steve Vo, P.E.; Kevin Wenninghoff, S.E.; Andrew Wilson, P.E.; Josh Wilson, P.E.; James Wingert, S.E.; Tyler Winnike, P.E.; Geof Wright, P.E.; and Mary Wurst, P.E.

Additional participants: Erin Froschheiser, AIA; Bernie Gehrki, AIA; Tim Hemsath, AIA; Sheila Ireland, AIA; Doug Peters, AIA; Andrew Portis, AIA; Stuart Shell, AIA; Jon Bergren, EI; Maggie Hilgenkamp, E.I.; Cody Largent, E.I.; Layne Micek, E.I.; Mark Niechwiadowicz, E.I.; Brendan Walsh, E.I.; Adam Dailey; Michel Mason; Travis Stangl; and Christopher Wozny

Jury Comments

“I appreciated the array of aspects involved in the design from structures to acoustics to rainwater harvesting to daylighting. Good mentor involvement and clear explanation of how the project met the award criteria.”

“This is an incredible project that gave the students exposure to nearly every facet of design in the real world from the actual technical design to working with various stakeholders to get the renovation properly permitted and approved.”

“This project was fantastic. The team hit all of the design requirements.”

Douglas W. Nelsen, P.E., L.C., is an Assoc. at IALD and an Industry Fellow.

What value does a real-world project bring to the students?

This project is often the first and certainly the most realistic experience of working on an actual project from start to finish. It requires proper planning, communication, and coordination with each member of the team—all important components of what is expected of them when they enter the industry.

How do you decide which projects to work on?

The Nebraska Architectural Engineering (AREN) Team Design AREN 8030-8040 participates in the Architectural Engineering Institute (AEI) student design competition. This project is used every year for the course. The project requires the design and integration of mechanical, electrical, and structural systems in the building. The project varies from year to year, including everything from a musical arts center to a multi-story children’s hospital. The AEI student design competition is the most highly regarded student design competition in Architectural Engineering and continues to raise the bar for quality, depth, and completeness of the student submissions and presentations.

How did this project prepare students for professional practice?

The majority of Nebraska AE alumni will be designing and specifying the mechanical, electrical, and structural systems for buildings and working on teams of engineers in their careers. Nebraska AE Team Design gives the students these experiences with the mentorship and evaluation from industry professionals. In working with these professionals, the students are also able to learn some valuable tips of their trade before entering the workforce, which makes them competitive candidates for future employment.

What advice do you have for other programs wanting to add similar collaborative projects to their curriculum?

I would emphasize the importance of the initial team building within the collaborative group of students. The students will work closely for many months and having effective communication, setting realistic expectations, and dealing with conflict resolution are all important components of an efficient team necessary for success. In addition, having great industry relations is critical to the Durham School of Architectural Engineering and Construction as those relationships are beneficial to all parties involved. Our industry partners volunteer to mentor our students and evaluate their documents, in addition to partnering on research opportunities within the university. In return, we provide them with an abundance of graduates and potential interns, as well as research to transform and enhance their business practices.

What did you like best about participating in this project?

I really enjoyed how realistic the project and course expectations were to being in industry. Up to this point our education was independent work and learning how to design, so being able to put all of those smaller pieces together for a complete solution was a new challenge. It was really rewarding to see our team bring an entire building to life with so many details and cohesive solutions.

What did you learn?

I would say I learned to be a better structural designer as well as team member. For technical skills my big take-aways were load path tracing through diaphragms and complicated systems such as trusses. Then for collaboration, I got to see the value of identifying and highlighting each team members strengths which helped us perform more efficiently for project deliverables.

How did the participation of professional engineers improve the experience?

The industry mentors help us think outside of the box when looking for solutions and unique designs to set this project apart. They encouraged us to pick the “crazy idea” and then problem solve how to make it improve our design solutions for the new building and still comply with the design requirements.

What do you think the engineers learned from working with students on this project?

I think the engineers learned about the changes in education style and tools being utilized at the university. Working on this project gave them a chance to be on the other side of the classroom and help fill the voids of technical content not covered in the typical curriculum.

Steve Vo, P.E., is Principal and Electrical Division Manager at Professional Engineering Consultants in Wichita, Kansas.

Why did you get involved with the project?

I enjoy working with students. It is a great way to give back to the engineering community and to get to know prospective hires.

How did you assist the students in the project?

We had weekly meetings where they presented their progress to date. I gave feedback on what they did and guidance on what to look at during the next week.

What did you learn from working with the students?

I was impressed by the work ethic of this generation. They really wanted to do well and learn. I learned to respect where they were in their professional journey and to remember what it was like to be a student.

What did you want students to learn from working with you?

My overall goal was to get them thinking in a practical manner. There is a big jump they need to make from the theoretical, academic world to the sometimes rough and tumble working world, and I wanted to help them be prepared as much as I could.