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UW Engineering Students Compete in Design Challenges

May 8, 2015

A nationwide push to build energy-efficient homes spurred a group of University of Wyoming students to compete in a house-design challenge, sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy.

Five UW architectural engineering students and one College of Business student collaborated on the design of a specialized house and presented the project to a panel at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Golden, Colo. UW was among 33 teams from the United States and Canada participating in the competition. The Race to Zero encouraged students to work with builders, developers, community leaders and other industry partners to meet stringent design requirements and create marketable, affordable concepts.

Architectural engineering student Yara Thomas from Wilson served as the team leader. She was joined by fellow engineering students Kyle Friel, Cambridge Springs, Pa.; Shane Halverson, Orr, Minn.; Zeng Li, Yantai, China; and Danah Murad, Laramie. College of Business student Fielding Lewis from Wilson was part of the team.

The group designed a zero-energy house for the “Race to Zero” competition. The house, called "Mountain Side Zero," was designed for a site in the sustainable community of Mountainside Village in Victor, Idaho. By definition, such high-performance homes are so energy efficient that renewable power can offset most or all of annual energy consumption.

UW Department of Civil and Architectural Engineering Lecturer Jon Gardzelewski was the faculty adviser on the project, assisted by faculty professors Anthony Denzer, Gang Tan and Liping Wang. The students also worked with a variety of industry partners, including architect Larry Thall and Carney Logan Burke Architects.

A second team of UW architectural engineering students designed an innovative housing scheme for the Dencity Competition 2015 organized by Shelter magazine.

The competition organizers asked students to design solutions to improve slum conditions worldwide during the coming decades. Currently, there are more than a billion people living in unplanned urban settlements. These slums do not have adequate housing, water or electricity and have high crime rates.

The UW students designed a flexible and adaptive set of rules for housing schemes based on inspiration from a natural phenomenon called cellular automata.

“The design focuses on the individual unit -- the family and the home -- and how it relates to its surroundings to promote health, safety and an overall standard of living,” says Gardzelewski, the project’s faculty adviser.

The project was designed by architectural engineering students Todd Anderson, Laramie; Friel; and Matt Schneider, Worland.

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