Posts Tagged ‘civil engineering’

LEED-ing the Way

Friday, August 6th, 2010

leed_certification

What is LEED?

This week, Sinclair Community College student Senya Oji-Njideka described the school’s Civil Engineering Technology program, which emphasizes energy conservation and energy analysis. In the course of his description, he mentioned several national programs being implemented to help save energy. One of those is the LEED building certification program — we did a little more homework to find out what LEED is all about and why it’s critical to Architectural Technology students — or anyone who is interested in buildings, and in the future of the planet.

LEED actually stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design. The voluntary certification program was at the forefront of the energy conservation effort, established in 1998 by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC). If a building has been “LEED-certified” it means that it is environmentally sound, constructed with materials and methods that are water-efficient and energy-efficient. It also means that it was designed with an eye to reduced carbon emissions and improved indoor air quality.

Within the U.S., more than 15,000 buildings have been LEED-certified, and that number is increasing as businesses and institutions become more concerned with the environment. Certification is based on a point-based ranking, and a building gains points based on seven different categories: Energy and Atmosphere; Sustainable Site; Indoor Environmental Air Quality; Materials and Resources; Water Efficiency; and Innovation in Design. Points are given for such things as using low-emitting materials in painting, flooring and adhesives to reusing existing materials during a reuild to creating a water efficient landscape.

So, what does this all mean to Senya and other students interested in careers in the building industry?

It means that, going forward, a thorough knowledge of LEED requirements is extremely useful — and often mandatory — for careers in Architectural Technology and Civil Engineering. The USGBC offers “LEED Professional Accreditation” to demonstrate a person’s expertise and ability to guide a building project through the LEED certification process. Exams are given in several categories, including the LEED-NC (New construction/major renovation), LEED-EB (Existing Building) and LEED-CI (Commercial Interior).

Check out the USGBC website where you’ll find plenty of background on green building initiatives as well as LEEDS-related laws and incentives that are being implemented in communities throughout the country to promote environmentally responsible building projects — both commercial and residential. The website also goes into more detail regarding LEEDS certification requirements and can direct you to exam-prep courses and other instruction to help prepare for LEEDS accreditation testing.

ATETV Episode 44: Impacting the Future, One Experience at a Time

Monday, August 2nd, 2010

This week, we visit a community college that has designed its Civil Engineering program with direct input from local industry, and talk with a student who is paying attention to energy conservation in his classroom work – and in his personal life.

In our first segment, we talk with Tressa Gardner of the South Carolina ATE Center, who describes the relationship between Florence-Darlington Technical College and the region’s area industries. It turns out that it’s mutually beneficial.

“We have great industry in this area, and it’s very important that we supply these [businesses] with the workers that they need,” says Tressa. As a result of this forward-thinking approach, Florence-Darlington graduates have many job opportunities to consider, be it as an engineering technician for a welding and cutting products company, a career in automation or a future as an “E and I” tech working in electrical and instrumentation technology.

As Tressa explains, a big reason why these job opportunities are available is the “hands-on” training that Florence-Darlington’s engineering students receive.

“The Pythagorean Theorem makes no sense if you just [work on it all day] without any real-life context,” she says. But, she adds, Florence-Darlington students discover that if they wind up working in power distribution for Progress Energy company, they’ll actually use the Pythagorean Theorem every day.

In our second segment, we learn that a similar “reality check” is in place at Sinclair Community College, where Civil Architectural Technology student Senya Oji-Njideka is applying new energy conservation skills to his classroom work, as well as to his own future.

“I have gotten more interested in energy analysis and energy conservation since I’ve been at Sinclair,” Senya explains. “Energy analysis is taking into account all the resources that you’re using at [one] time…and then making sure that you’re using what you need and only what you need, and not wasting at all.”

Senya finds that this mindset is not only good for his education, it’s just plain good. “I constantly find myself making people aware of how they’re using energy and how much it really costs, not just to their pocketbook, but also to the environment…. This is the future of technology. Everybody on the planet is going to have to [start conserving]. You’ve got to start somewhere.”

ATETV Episode 16: ATE in Virtual and Real Worlds

Thursday, January 7th, 2010

Technology is changing the way we interact with the physical world; it even lets us create entire digital realities that exist only within a computer. This week we look at three ATE programs operating at different spots on the spectrum between reality and virtual reality.

First, we visit the simulation and game development program at Wake Technical Community College, where students are immersed in virtual worlds of their own design. The curriculum is intense; student Ryan Snell recalls a class where he had to make a new video game every two weeks. “It was the greatest experience I’ve ever had,” he says. Another student, Aisha Eskandari, is adding a side project to her course load, coding a simulation to teach people CPR. Her work is a good example of virtual reality having a positive impact on the real world.

Another blending of the real and virtual is geospatial technology, which creates digital maps of the physical world. Central Piedmont Community College is spreading the word about this growing field by reaching out to high school students. “Students can take our courses free of charge while in high school, and get college credit as well as high school credit, and earn a certificate before they ever come here as a college student,” says Central Piedmont’s Rodney Jackson.

If geospatial technology straddles the real and the virtual, civil engineering is all about building the infrastructure that makes the real world work. That’s the appeal for Bristol Community College student Vittorio Pascal, who’s come back to school to change careers. “I like the possibility of a work environment where I’m not necessarily crammed into a four-by-four cube.”

Whether you want to work out in field like Vittorio or are more comfortable in front of a computer, chances are there’s an ATE program that will appeal to you.