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Brazilian ASHRAE Members Start Six Student Branches In Four Years

Brazilian ASHRAE Members Start Six Student Branches In Four Years

From eSociety, July 2017

By Mary Kate McGowan, Associate Editor, News

One ASHRAE chapter’s efforts to mentor and help develop the future leaders of the built industry has resulted in six new student branch chapters and an increase of student membership.

The number of ASHRAE student branches in Brazil has jumped from zero to six since 2012 with more on the way. During that same time, the number of ASHRAE student members in Brazil has increased from 19 to 89 student members.

During his final address as the Society’s president during the 2017 Annual Conference in Long Beach, Calif., 2016-2017 ASHRAE President Tim Wentz, P.E., Fellow ASHRAE, credited one ASHRAE member for this increased student involvement in the South American country: Walter Lenzi, Member ASHRAE, CPMP, who is the Student Activities Chair for the Brasil ASHRAE Chapter.

In turn, Lenzi attributed the students and other Region XII ASHRAE members’ hard work for the rise in participating student engineers.

“We realized that the student members need to grow because they are the future of the Society,” Lenzi said. “There were some trainees working in our firm that were very interested in ASHRAE. As they were studying mechanical engineering, we talked about the opportunities of forming an ASHRAE (student branch) together with the professors and university where they were studying.”

The ball started rolling a few years ago when the young engineers came together with professors and ASHRAE members. In the winter of January 2014, ASHRAE São Paulo Student Branch, the first of its kind in Brazil, was made official, Lenzi said.

“After that we have created at least one student branch per year. Last year we created two in the same year,” he said.


Currently, six ASHRAE student branches—with about 18 members each—are located in the Brazilian states of São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, Minas Gerais, Brasília DF, Rio Grande do Sul, and Ceará, Lenzi said. Two more student branches are being developed this next year.

The branches participate in monthly activities and meetings, regularly scheduled seminars, and technical visits among other events.

Outside of the planned meetings, more than 100 of Brazil’s student members, advisers, and other ASHRAE members connect with each other through the WhatsApp messaging app to get to know each other, Lenzi said.

The app has proved so successful for ASHRAE members in Brazil that another messaging group was created to include Region XII’s advisers, presidents, and distinguished students that hail from Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, and Florida.

The increase of Brazilian student branches also reflects Region XII’s priority to recruit younger members to the Society whose “new, innovative ideas” can help solve problems within the industry, said Ross Montgomery, P.E., Fellow ASHRAE, CPMP, BEAP, BEMP, HBDP.

“Students are the lifeblood of ASHRAE and our region; our DRC Dan Rogers has made it a priority to focus on student growth in Region XII and promotes those incentives during his regional duties,” said Montgomery, who is based in Parrish, Fla., and the regional representative for Region XII.

Student membership in Region XII has increased by 304 members and 11 student branches since 2013.

ASHRAE has 7,890 student members and has made official 280 student branches throughout the world, as of July 2017.


The need to grow ASHRAE’s presence in Brazil was one of the reasons to increase student involvement in the Society, Lenzi said.

More than 207 million people live in Brazil, and there’s only one ASHRAE chapter in the country. Lenzi said there needs to be at least six ASHRAE chapters in the country that includes 25 states and one federal district, but more leaders are needed to start those groups.

“The only way for these to happen is to create student member leaders in the student branches for them to learn how to organize and manage a group and in the future to create more chapters growing from the local student branches,” he said.

Some ASHRAE student members do not continue with the Society after graduating, so the Brazilian chapters are promoting ASHRAE’s Smart Start Program to entice students to continue with the organization, Lenzi said.

As of July 2017, more than 200 ASHRAE members live in Brazil, which is 50 more members than the Brazilian chapter had in 2010.  


Rio de Janeiro hosted the 2016 Olympic Summer Games, but the worldwide event did not greatly increase the number of ASHRAE members in the host country, said Lenzi.

The Games did attract more student members to the Society but not as many new ASHRAE members, he said.

Lenzi, who is the president of W&R Lenzi, Ltda. in Sao Paulo, participated in the design process for the 2014 FIFA World Cup and the 2016 Summer Olympic Games, based on ASHRAE/IES Standard 202-2013, Commissioning Process for Buildings and Systems.

The Olympic Games further plunged Rio into economic struggles, and that challenge has affected ASHRAE participation, according to Lenzi. After the Olympics, Brazil is struggling financially and politically because of corruption, he said.

“Participation as it is a volunteer activity, is always difficult and with crisis in the country make these worse. But there are some very participating members,” he said.

Regardless of the country’s difficulties, Lenzi and other ASHRAE members who live in Brazil and Region XII are working to continue increasing student involvement and young ASHRAE membership, for the good of the Society.

“Students are the future of the society, of our industry market, of the engineering world,” Lenzi said.