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Western Michigan Chapter STEM Outreach

Exposing Students to “Creative, Challenging and Rewarding” Building Design Field

From eSociety, July 2019 

Hands-on experience opened students’ eyes to careers in the building design field, thanks to an ASHRAE chapter. 

ASHRAE Western Michigan Chapter members and other building industry professionals helped more than 120 students in Grand Rapids, Mich., learn about the architecture and engineering design fields this year.

The Western Michigan Chapter coordinated a semester-long design project to give back to the community ahead of hosting the Region V Annual Conference, said Adam Doubblestein, P.E., Member ASHRAE, Western Michigan Chapter President.

“The architecture and engineering design field can seem very daunting, so being able to introduce students to these design fields and to include multiple schools in the district seemed like the perfect opportunity for engagement,” he said. “Collectively, our West Michigan ASHRAE chapter wanted to raise the awareness of creative, design-oriented career paths for students within our community.” 

Students from four schools were assigned design disciplines: architecture, mechanical engineering, electrical engineering and interior design and landscape architecture. Teams from different schools worked together to design a new home, according to Doubblestein.

Industry professionals explain the design process to the student teams.

Architects, engineers and interior designers talked the students through the design process and helped the students collaborate with the other schools’ teams. Doubblestein said the industry professionals were surprised by how quickly the students caught onto the design process, and many students exceeded expectations. 

“Some teams were very creative in defining the client profile and objectives for the project.  There were teams very engaged in the interior design process and the landscape architecture process,” said Doubblestein. “A few of the interior teams made finish boards showing the material selections and color palettes.”

 Some site plans included outdoor amenities such as ball courts and pools, he said.  

“The MEP groups seemed amazed that "all those systems" have to be thought of, designed and routed throughout a project,” he said.

The students presented their projects to a panel of judges and their peers at the end of the semeter-long task.

At the end of the project, students and a panel of judges evaluated the teams’ designs. The students who excelled in their assigned disciplines are preparing to present their designs at the Region V Conference this month. There will be a student and professional panel discussion, and all educators in west Michigan are invited to attend. 

With the goal of exposing students to architecture, engineering design and the collaborative design process, the project created a framework of lesson plans and curriculum that can be replicated, according to Doubblestein.

“It is important for ASHRAE (and partners) to be involved in activities like this to expose students to the creative, challenging and rewarding industry of building construction. Students do not have much, if any, access or exposure to potential career paths without the involvement of industry professionals,” said Doubblestein. "’Hands on’" experience is eye-opening, and the students were very eager to engage and learn.”

Contact Adam Doubblestein for more information.