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Development Of A Four Course Sequence In Building Electrical Power Distribution

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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

Trends in Energy Conversion/Conservation

Page Count


Page Numbers

7.408.1 - 7.408.9



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Paper Authors

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John Wheeldon

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Glenn Wrate

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Development of a Four-Course Sequence in Building Electrical Power Distribution

John Wheeldon, Glenn Wrate Milwaukee School of Engineering


This paper discusses the four-course sequence in building electrical power distribution systems offered in the Architectural Engineering program at the Milwaukee School of Engineering (MSOE). The design specialty that allows MSOE to offer this sequence when other universities are eliminating their only course in electrical power systems is discussed first. The goals, objectives, and challenges of all four courses are then presented. The first course in the sequence is introductory. Students entering the building electrical design specialty, together with students in the building environmental systems and structural systems specialties, take this course. Therefore, the course must present the material at a level that will excite the students continuing in the specialty while providing sufficient breadth and depth to allow students in the other two specialties to effectively communicate with engineers in the electrical discipline. The next course in the sequence is only for students in the specialty. It provides the necessary theoretical foundation for the subsequent courses in the specialty. The main challenge with this course has been the steady drift of circuit analysis textbooks in the non-electrical major area away from building electrical examples and problems to a focus on automotive systems. The last two courses in the sequence focus on small commercial buildings and light industrial facilities, and then multistory buildings and large industrial facilities. Formal designs, including presentations, are required in both of these courses. Typically, one of the courses has individual projects, w hile the other course forces the students to work in teams. The order of the project assignments has been varied to deal with the strengths and weaknesses of the individual classes. These courses are currently offered as elective courses in the Electrical Engineering program, and, hopefully, in the future to students in the Mechanical Engineering program.


Electrical Engineering (EE) programs across the United States have seen a decline in electrical power engineering courses for the last few years 1. This same trend has been witnessed in the EE program at the Milwaukee School of Engineering (MSOE). At MSOE however, there is an increase in interest in the power systems option among Architectural Engineering (AE) students. The driving force behind this interest is an increasing demand for graduates with a power systems background for facilities engineering 2. A group of 25 local design firms and contractors recently approached MSOE and requested a sequence of courses that would prepare AE students for a career in the building electrical area. In response to their request a specialty in building electrical power systems was developed. The power systems specialty in AE includes a four- course sequence taught in the EE program along with additional courses from the AE program in topics such as Illumination, Communications, and the National Electric Code Ò. (See Table 1)

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

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Wheeldon, J., & Wrate, G. (2002, June), Development Of A Four Course Sequence In Building Electrical Power Distribution Paper presented at 2002 Annual Conference, Montreal, Canada. 10.18260/1-2--10351

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