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Architectural Engineering Applications Of Rapid Prototyping

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2002 Annual Conference


Montreal, Canada

Publication Date

June 16, 2002

Start Date

June 16, 2002

End Date

June 19, 2002



Conference Session

Practice/Industry Partnership

Page Count


Page Numbers

7.221.1 - 7.221.9



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Paper Authors

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Michael McGeen

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Main Menu Session 1685

Architectural Engineering Applications of Rapid Prototyping

Michael J. McGeen, A.I.A. Milwaukee School of Engineering


In today’s construction industry, with the introduction of new materials, free- form shapes of buildings, special problems with historical preservation and even buildings with very large components that move, there are many new challenges for the architectural engineer. This paper highlights some of the work done at Milwaukee School of Engineering that links the work of architectural engineers with our Rapid Prototyping Center. This work started as research under the Research Experience for Undergraduates in Solid Freeform Fabrication program at MSOE. This is a program sponsored by the National Science Foundation. Projects have ranged from replication of historical decorative plaster details and writing code to translate drawing files into a form that can be read by the RP machines to modeling a building designed for Milwaukee School of Engineering by Santiago Calatrava. A side benefit of this program has been realized in our Senior Design course, AE450, where student teams design a building for a real client. Models of these designs, which used to take at least three weeks to fabricate, are now completed sometimes in as little time as five days. This has proven to be a definite benefit to our clients as well as a better use of student time.

I. Introduction

This paper is a summary of work that has been on going at Milwaukee School of Engineering (MSOE). The strength of this work is the result of the collaboration between students and faculty from different academic backgrounds and departments. The common thread running through all of this research is that each department is looking for new ways to use rapid prototyping in their area of interest. We have students that have worked on such diverse topics as modeling the human skull, the circulatory system of rat lungs, devices for improved heat exchange and an experiment to be taken into space on the space shut tle. All of us have come together under a program made possible by a grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) called Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) to share our discoveries in hopes that a new discovery or technique in one area might also find application in another discipline. This paper will specifically cover the application of rapid prototyping to the area of architectural engineering, or more specifically, the modeling of buildings or parts of buildings.

II. The rationale for mode ling buildings

The question that comes up most often from people not familiar with the practice of architecture is; why do you build models in the first place? The first reason an architect may have to create

Proceedings of the 2002 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright © 2002, American Society for Engineering Education

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McGeen, M. (2002, June), Architectural Engineering Applications Of Rapid Prototyping Paper presented at 2002 Annual Conference, Montreal, Canada. 10.18260/1-2--10457

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