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Architectural Design as a Way for Civil Engineers to Learn Building Systems and BIM

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2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access


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Publication Date

June 22, 2020

Start Date

June 22, 2020

End Date

June 26, 2021

Conference Session

Architectural Engineering Division Technical Session 2

Tagged Divisions

Architectural Engineering and Construction Engineering

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Paper Authors


James B. Pocock U.S. Air Force Academy

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James Pocock is a professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the United States Air Force Academy. His interests include architectural and engineering education, and sustainable architecture, engineering and construction in the developing world.

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Patrick Charles Suermann P.E. Texas A&M University

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Dr. Patrick C. Suermann, PE, LEED AP, Lt Col, USAF, ret., is the Department Head of the largest Construction Science program in the nation at Texas A&M University. After retiring from the Air Force as the first ever Chief of Emergency Services & Engineering at the newly formed Headquarters Air Force Installation and Mission Support Center (AFIMSC), Suermann’s last teaching position as Associate Professor of Civil and Env. Engineering at the U.S. Air Force Academy USAFA set him up for unique and far reaching partnerships inside academia and the federal government. He has experience in deployed and international construction, Explosive Ordnance Disposal, Fire & Emergency Services, and Emergency Management. He was the 2016 AFIMSC STEM Outreach Award nominee to the Air Force Chief Scientist. Suermann is a leader in the BIM field as a listed author on all three NBIMS versions.

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This paper profiles an innovative design course in an undergraduate civil engineering program. The course teaches architecture as a senior design option, while integrating multi-disciplinary building systems design into the course. The students must integrate the building’s site, foundation, structural, HVAC and electrical designs into the overall architectural design. The students learn how architects and engineers work together in multi-disciplinary teams to complete a building design project. Along the way the students become proficient with Autodesk Revit software as a Building Information Management (BIM) tool to better communicate their building’s three dimensional design, its sustainable design and energy use, and to estimate its cost. The ABET-accredited civil engineering program includes courses in the sub disciplines of construction, environmental, geotechnical and structural engineering. Every senior chooses two “design option” courses to emphasize one or two of these disciplines. This course is one of two design options offered by the construction division. The Architectural Design course goes back to 1990, and was originally focused on residential design. Over the years, both architects and civil engineers have taught the course. The course was redesigned and reintroduced in 2014 in a new format. Instead of each student designing their own “dream house” each student now designs a complete fire station while satisfying the requirements of an architectural program for a real fire station. The course includes a field trip to a new fire station in the local area to identify design issues from the fire fighters’ perspective. It includes blocks on architectural programming and preliminary design, design development (including building systems design) and design integration and presentation. Each student’s design must include a strategy for LEED Gold certification. Although Architectural Design is just one of eight design option courses, it has been quite popular. For example, in the last two years 42% of civil engineering majors have chosen it as one of their two design options. The course is assessed each year through course assessment plans, course assessment reports, student course critiques and program graduation surveys. Quantitative and qualitative assessment data are presented. Students rate it among their favorite undergraduate courses, but more importantly it prepares them for their future roles in designing and managing real projects.

Keywords: architecture, civil engineering, engineering design, interdisciplinary, BIM technology

Pocock, J. B., & Suermann, P. C. (2020, June), Architectural Design as a Way for Civil Engineers to Learn Building Systems and BIM Paper presented at 2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual On line . 10.18260/1-2--34162

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