A Changing World Brings a Changing Curriculum – WSU Insider


When architecture and design students at WSU graduate, they should know how to draw a floor plan and use advanced computer programs to create models and designs.

Starting next year, more WSU students and design professionals will also have the opportunity to learn about reducing polluting carbon emissions from residential housing.

Led by Omar Al-Hassawi, assistant professor in the School of Design and Construction, WSU faculty members are developing a building science certificate program and a diploma focused on carbon-conscious construction. The program aims to fill a gap in comprehensive energy efficiency training for students as well as for professionals who are already in the labor market. Last year, Al-Hassawi received a $750,000 grant from the Ministry of Energy over 3 years to develop the program. This year, researchers are developing courses and beginning efforts to recruit students.

“This is similar to other basic skill sets that design professionals must possess, so when a prospective student graduates, they will be expected to understand building performance and how assemble a building assembly in a proper way that works energy efficiently,” Al-Hassawi said.

The work is important because residential housing is one of the biggest contributors to carbon emissions and climate change, accounting for 23% of all energy use in Washington, Al-Hassawi said. The 2020 version of its state residential energy code is considered one of the most stringent in the United States, increasing requirements for energy efficiency in everything from windows to insulation. The state building code was also recently updated to require electric heat in all new commercial buildings – an effort to combat carbon emissions and climate change.

The courses, which are expected to start in January 2023, will provide training in areas such as energy modeling and simulation software; mechanical systems that impact a building’s performance; integration of smart technologies, evaluation of the energy performance of buildings; and state codes, standards and rating systems. There will also be a one-semester design studio course as part of the curriculum. The program focuses on the construction of small to medium-sized single and multi-family dwellings.

WSU’s Voiland College of Engineering and Architecture has a unique opportunity to provide the comprehensive multidisciplinary approach needed to address the energy challenge, Al-Hassawi said. It is one of only five universities in the United States that combine engineering and architecture in a single college and the only one of five to include all major design disciplines for the built environment.

“There’s a growing awareness that our built environment is part of the natural environment, and so we have a responsibility to try not to alter our planet as much as possible,” said graduate student Abigail Kirsten. ‘School of Design and Construction which is part of a team helping to develop the program’s curriculum. “I hope one day this will be the norm.”

A multidisciplinary team that includes researchers in civil engineering, mechanical engineering, architecture, and construction management develops the undergraduate and graduate certificate programs as well as the master’s program. Many courses will be online, making them accessible to a wider and more specialized audience than traditional degree programs. The team is also collaborating with WSU’s Energy Extension Program, McKinstry, a Seattle-based construction and engineering firm, King County’s Housing Development Consortium, and Pacific Northwest National Laboratory’s Energy Efficiency Program on development. lessons.

WSU team members include Julia Day, David Drake, Taiji Miyasaka, Ryan Smith and Matt Melcher from the School of Design and Construction, Dustin McLarty from the School of Mechanical and Materials Engineering, Jonathan Jones, Megan Kramer , Todd Currier and Carolyn Roos. from the WSU Energy Program and Suzanne Hamada from the Composite Materials and Engineering Center.

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