In 2013, WPI led a multi-university team, including Ghent University and NYU-Poly, in the design, construction, and promotion of a sustainable solar home for exhibition at the first Solar Decathlon held in China. The project team titled their net-zero energy house Solatrium, reflecting its central feature, an atrium that plays a large role in the home’s passive heating and cooling. The Solatrium was constructed in Worcester by WPI faculty and students, with assistance from local carpenters and students at Worcester Technical High School (WTHS) before being shipped to China for the competition, where an audience of 30,000 visited the house.
WPI’s Architectural Engineering program focuses on the science and engineering aspects of building design, preparing engineering graduates for careers in the building professions. Drawing on WPI’s unique strength in project based education, the program provides a high quality education in the fundamentals of engineering and its application to buildings. WPI’s Architectural Engineering program is one of only a few ABET accredited programs in the U.S. and the only one in New England.
The construction, operation, maintenance, and decommissioning of buildings has global impact and consequence. Buildings consume about 40% of the world’s energy and also play a major role in human health and productivity. There is an increasing demand for engineering professionals who can design buildings that require less resources while increasing occupant comfort, health, and safety. The main goal of our program is to educate the next generation of engineers who will create the sustainable built environment of tomorrow. Drawing from both the architect’s knowledge of design and the engineer’s understanding of structural, mechanical, and electrical systems, the integrated, technically focused program educates students through classroom teaching, architectural design studios, interdisciplinary projects, and hands-on learning. The program is designed to produce graduates who have a fundamental understanding of all building systems, while allowing them to gain design competence in the mechanical or structural areas.
Designing Changes for AREN’s Home
As part of her Major Qualifying Project, Yan Zhang ’15 developed a proposal for a new addition to Kaven Hall, home of the AREN program and CEE department. Her architectural design scheme connects the lower and upper campus, encouraging pedestrian traffic through the building while providing additional studio and laboratory spaces for the program; she also used energy simulation software to optimize comfort and energy use, and developed architectural details for the extensive glass façade.
Greenhouse and Community Garden at WTHS
Working with a community partner, WPI AREN students developed several design proposals to convert an existing building on the Worcester Technical High School campus into a greenhouse and community garden. These students are also working alongside WTHS students to assist with the actual construction of the new space.
Nova interviewed Albert Simeoni (2:32 mark), professor, interim department head, Fire Protection Engineering; and Steven Van Dessel (2:14 mark), associate professor, director, Architectural Engineering Program, for this PBS Videos segment on Facebook.