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Planning A Living Building Laboratory (Building As A Laboratory) That Will Integrate With Engineering Technology Curriculum

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2007 Annual Conference & Exposition


Honolulu, Hawaii

Publication Date

June 24, 2007

Start Date

June 24, 2007

End Date

June 27, 2007



Conference Session

Emerging Trends in Industrial Technology

Tagged Division

Engineering Technology

Page Count


Page Numbers

12.1156.1 - 12.1156.10



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Paper Authors


Jason Durfee Eastern Washington University

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JASON DURFEE received his BS and MS degrees in Mechanical Engineering from Brigham Young University. He holds a Professional Engineer certification. Prior to teaching at Eastern Washington University he was a military pilot, an engineering instructor at West Point and an airline pilot. His interests include aerospace, aviation, professional ethics and piano technology.

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

Planning A Living-Building Laboratory (Building as a Laboratory) That Will Integrate With Engineering Technology Curriculum Abstract

In the fall of 2005 the Engineering & Design Department at Eastern Washington University moved into a newly constructed building. During the early design stages provisions were made to allow students access to various types of data used in the operation of the building. The desire was that the building would be used by students as a Living Laboratory. Students would be able to see how the theory that was taught in their classes was put into practical use throughout the building. Courses taught in the department could use the actual data from the building in laboratory assignments. Core mechanical engineering courses such as thermodynamics, fluid mechanics and strength of materials would be able to use this data for student lab work. Electrical engineering students would be able to observe the digital control and feedback processes. Both disciplines would be able to collaborate in collecting operating data for the building and making predictions as to how they might be able to improve the efficiency of the operation. Modifications were made to the original design in order to provide for this new use of the building. These modifications included: making the HVAC/control room extra wide to provide access for students to observe equipment and take readings, exposing cable trays and ducting, instrumenting valves and pumps in order to obtain valve position and pump speed information, and leaving structural elements exposed to provide locations to mount strain gages to record the loads on the building’s structure. Although the provisions for installing all of the desired equipment were built into the final building, as the construction of the building progressed fiscal concerns caused a reduction in the number of Living-Building Laboratory components that were actually funded. This paper describes efforts that have been undertaken in order to obtain the necessary equipment, functionality and course objectives to complete the Living-Building Laboratory concept.

Introduction to the Living-Building Laboratory Concept

The idea of using the academic building as a laboratory is an easy concept to grasp. Students in the sciences (and really all disciplines) should be taught to examine the world around them; asking questions and seeking answers. Students majoring in technical disciplines should have a more personal connection with the technical details of building operations. Typical of many, our department saw ourselves purchasing educational laboratory demonstrators for such engineering processes as pipe flow, pump performance, heat exchanger operation, etc. All the while these same processes were taking place in real-time within the very building the students were in. Creating a method to access these actual processes that would allow the students to study them would take them from the realm of scaled-down, simplified educational models to the actual equipment they would be working with in industry. A few years ago when approval was granted for the construction of a new Computing & Engineering Building, faculty members of the Engineering & Design department at Eastern Washington University devoted their efforts to working with the architectural firm and modifying the building’s design to create access to the technical equipment located within the building. Additional instrumentation was also requested that would provide the complete picture of the daily operation of the building. Examples of these modifications include increased working area around flow handlers to allow student access,

Durfee, J. (2007, June), Planning A Living Building Laboratory (Building As A Laboratory) That Will Integrate With Engineering Technology Curriculum Paper presented at 2007 Annual Conference & Exposition, Honolulu, Hawaii. 10.18260/1-2--1974

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