AEI Biennial Forum

WPI to Host Architectural Engineering Institute Forum • The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) has selected WPI to host the Architectural Engineering Institute’s (AEI) first Biennial Forum, from March 31 through April 1.
March 11, 2016

The AEI Forum program will bring together students, faculty, and industry leaders, including structural, mechanical, electrical engineers, construction management professionals, and architects to focus on “The IMPACT of the Integrated Building,” with lectures, presentations, and events.

According to Leffi Cewe-Malloy, an architectural engineering instructor at WPI and the conference chair, the premise of the forum is to closely link students from leading U.S. institutions with practicing professionals. The conference’s new forum format gives professionals and students equal opportunities to network and attend all sessions. This format will occur every other year and the AEI will host its traditional, technical industry conference in the intervening years.

The blended forum format fosters excitement and opportunities for veteran professionals, industry leaders, academic experts, and students who are beginning their careers, says Cewe-Malloy. While the students will have the chance to network and listen to industry leaders, the professionals will also get a rare opportunity to see what the next crop of architectural engineers is doing. There will be student competition presentations, lectures, professional project award presentations, a technical tour of WPI’s Fire Science Laboratories, smaller breakout sessions, and an awards banquet. In addition to the eight AEI Build keynote lecturers, the lunch keynote speaker for this year’s forum is Gordon Gill, design partner of Chicago-based Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture LLP, whose designs range from some of the world’s tallest buildings to smaller, sustainable communities.

On Thursday, March 31, finalist teams of students will present their solution to the yearly AEI student design competition. According to the ASCE’s AEI student competition website, this year’s teams are challenged “to address the design, integration, and construction issues that must be considered for a 17-story mixed-use office building located on Boylston Street in Boston, Massachusetts. The submittals should address the construction, design issues, and life cycle cost concepts related to a high performance building.”

According to Cewe-Malloy, students are asked to design a building that takes all of the engineering systems, such as structures, HVAC, plumbing, lighting, and architecture into consideration to design an integrated, sustainable building using innovative and original solutions. “Sustainability is a very important challenge,” she says.

The resulting presentations, says Cewe-Malloy are nothing short of awe inspiring. “The student competition presentations are a showcase of the professional and highly qualified architectural engineers who are going to be entering the workforce soon,” she says. “The work they are doing is innovative and on target.”

The second day of the event focuses on the AEI’s Build Initiative, with eight keynote lecturers from around the United States, says Cewe-Malloy. Speakers from several engineering disciplines will address the initiative’s eight different categories: deliver, enclose, learn, modular, perform, resilient, secure, and sustain.

Niklas Vigener, senior principal and head of building technology at Simpson Gumpertz & Heger (SGH) will address the enclosure category, and says opportunities like those at this forum are invaluable. “For practitioners, students, and academics,” he says, “it is a circle of professionals and future professionals who share your own agenda and passion for making buildings work and making buildings better, greener, and more sustainable. It’s where we get great ideas for the development of the practice.”

Cewe-Malloy is pleased to bring the AEI conference to WPI, as the architectural program here is just a few years old, and the only one in New England. “Our architectural engineering program is fairly new, but it is rigorous and highly regarded in the academic community,” she says. “This conference will show a national audience what WPI’s program has to offer.”

Members of the WPI community are encouraged to register for the conference and non-registered participants are invited to sit in on student competition presentations or lectures by the keynote industry professionals.