Architectural Engineering Starts with Design from Day 1

TitleArchitectural Engineering Starts with Design from Day 1
Publication TypeConference Paper
Year of Publication2019
AuthorsMui, R. Hanson, S. Jung Woo, S. Arbuckle, R. Al-Hammoud, and S. Walbridge
Conference NameASEE Annual Conference and Exposition
Conference LocationTampa, Florida

The University of Waterloo (UW) has implemented an Architectural Engineering (AE) program, which is the first program in Canada to integrate core engineering education with open ended design studio courses throughout the program’s entirety. An event called AE Design Days was held during the first two days of classes for the incoming AE students. In groups of four, students were tasked with designing, building, and testing a furniture piece. The projects were evaluated by core course instructors and teaching assistants against the following criteria: identifying and proposing a solution for a problem specific to the given site, choosing an appropriate match between design, material and construction technique, and efficiently resisting service loads. The final task of the event was a simultaneous slideshow presentation and load test where students explained their group’s design rationale, and tested designs with estimated service loads and to failure. Both a ‘people’s choice’ winner and overall winner were awarded, with no grade being assigned to the students. The event had several objectives: - providing an opportunity to build working relationships with classmates, faculty, and staff, - introducing the students to core course content in a practical situation before the theory is introduced in class, - allowing the students to gain experience working with their hands, - introducing the students to the iterative design process and breeding a culture of open-ended problem solving confidence, - allowing the instructors to gauge the skill sets of incoming students and get a feel for how each cohort of students is different over the years (note: instructors can use this experience to calibrate course material, taking into account what skills each cohort has already built before entry), and - introducing the students to induction and experiential learning pedagogies. which will be echoed throughout their future studio courses. According to the student survey conducted after the event, ninety percent of the participants felt that AE Design Days was a positive experience and wish to have a similar event in future academic terms. Prior skill set data obtained through Design Days can be used in order to evaluate the effectiveness of emphasis on certain criteria for admission to the program. The paper will discuss the details of the AE design days and its effects on the students by comparing their results with other cohorts who have not been yet exposed to design days and through the analysis of the survey questions.