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Observed Best Practices Within a Student Driven Multidisciplinary Team-based Architectural Engineering Capstone

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2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Salt Lake City, Utah

Publication Date

June 23, 2018

Start Date

June 23, 2018

End Date

July 27, 2018

Conference Session

Multidisciplinary Design II

Tagged Division

Multidisciplinary Engineering

Tagged Topic


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Paper Authors


Ryan L. Solonsky P.E. Pennsylvania State University, University Park

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Ryan Solnosky is an Assistant Teaching Professor in the Department of Architectural Engineering at The Pennsylvania State University at University Park. Dr. Solnosky started at Penn State in July of 2013 and has taught courses for Architectural Engineering, Civil Engineering, and Pre-Major Freshman in Engineering. He received his integrated Professional Bachelor of Architectural Engineering/Master of Architectural Engineering (BAE/MAE) degrees in architectural engineering from The Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA, in 2009, and his Ph.D. in architectural engineering from The Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA in 2013. Dr. Solnosky is also a licensed Professional Engineer in PA.
Ryan is also an advisor for Penn State’s National AEI Student Competition teams where under his guidance students have won over 45 awards in the last 6 years. His research interests include: integrated structural design methodologies and processes; Innovative methods for enhancing engineering education; and high performing wall enclosures. These three areas look towards the next generation of building engineering, including how systems are selected, configured and designed.

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M K Parfitt

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The design, construction, and operations of buildings fall within the architecture and engineering domains. Buildings are highly technical and critical systems that are engineered to performance levels that allow buildings to function for 100’s of years. To achieve this, buildings require engineers and managers to be of a learned, regulated and licensed profession. While many engineering degrees educate building design, perhaps best suited for the task is Architectural Engineering. Here at Penn State University, architectural engineering (AE) encompasses: Mechanical HVAC Design, Lighting/electrical Design, Structural Design and Construction Engineering and Management.

The pinnacle of the program is the yearlong capstone with inherent multidisciplinary aspects to it. With an industry interface, the capstone is critical to enrich the student experience in complex building design through simulating the project to be “more real world” than traditional capstones. This capstone distinguishes itself by the level of relatively independent work done by the student teams (vs. teaching by the faculty), heavy industry practitioner interactions, mentoring roles of the faculty and lastly, utilizing real industry projects. Original contributions for this study lie in having an open-ended design project where multi-disciplinary teams within AE are expected to develop project specific goals; select proper technologies, processes and infrastructures to support achieving these goals; then performing parametric and integrative design evolutions through cyclic iterations that focus on the goals and not specific disciplines. This paper describes trends and successes we have observed throughout our 9 years of offering this team based approach. Specifically how technology and collaborative processes were approached by the students, students’ results on the topic, industry practitioner engagement strategies, and best practices for future implementation of similar offerings by other programs will be covered.

Solonsky, R. L., & Parfitt, M. K. (2018, June), Observed Best Practices Within a Student Driven Multidisciplinary Team-based Architectural Engineering Capstone Paper presented at 2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Salt Lake City, Utah. 10.18260/1-2--30843

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