Architectural engineers from Lawrence Tech expected to lead green buildings movement

As energy conservation becomes increasing important, dramatic changes will be needed in the buildings where we live and work. In response to those challenges, Lawrence Technological University has introduced a five-year program that combines a bachelor's and master's degree in architectural engineering. It is among only a few in the country.

"Lawrence Tech's architectural engineering program meets a great need in the construction industry, which suffers from a lack of building-oriented design engineers," said Gordon Holness, president of the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) and chairman emeritus of Albert Kahn Associates Inc.

By combining an architectural design core with an engineering curriculum, Lawrence Tech's dual-degree program equips students with the artistic perspective to understand what an architect is trying to accomplish as they use their specialized engineering skills to design and engineer structures. Graduates will be qualified to become licensed engineers.

Architectural engineers analyze the site, building orientation and exposure; design the heating, cooling, lighting and power distribution systems; ensure fire protection systems; and determine how water usage and waste will be managed and minimized.

Architectural engineers are highly sought after by architecture and engineering firms, construction companies, and building owners because they have the specialized skills needed to compete in an increasingly technical, green and energy-conscious marketplace.

"Graduates of this program will understand sustainability, energy efficiency and the integrated design process," said Filza Walters, director of the new degree program. "They will be in high demand by building owners and architectural and engineering companies. Building owners and operators want healthy, energy-efficient and high-performing buildings with a reduced carbon footprint and reduced operating expenses."

As the demand grows for green, high-performance buildings, project teams must adapt their designs to a new generation of mechanical and electrical systems, while building engineers will have to be aware of the design challenges and opportunities those new systems create.

"People in the field are suddenly realizing that engineers and architects are going to have to work closely together to figure out new solutions," Walters said. "Our architectural engineering graduates will be able to bridge the gap that has traditionally existed between the two disciplines."

That gap is already much smaller at Lawrence Tech where students are immersed in an integrated design and delivery approach, and often take courses in engineering and architecture.

Sustainability is a major movement in architecture, and architectural engineers learn how to reduce the "carbon footprint" of a building. Students in this five-year program will be prepared to take leadership roles in the rapidly expanding field of sustainable building design.

Walters has more than 18 years of experience as a designer, consulting engineer, project manager and owner's representative, working on commercial, institutional, healthcare, industrial and educational facilities. Before accepting a full-time faculty position at Lawrence Tech, she was an owner's representative and project manager at Wayne State University and a guest lecturer at Lawrence Tech.

Walters has a bachelor's degree in architectural engineering from Kansas State University, and an MBA in international business from Lawrence Tech.

"Our graduates will aspire to create built environments that are aesthetically pleasing, healthy, innovative in mechanical and electrical design, and cost-effective to build, maintain and sustain," she said.

Lawrence Technological University,, offers more than 100 undergraduate, master's and doctoral degree programs in Colleges of Architecture and Design, Arts and Sciences, Engineering and Management. Founded in 1932, the 4,500-student, private university pioneered evening classes and today has a growing number of weekend and online programs. Lawrence Tech's 102-acre campus is in Southfield, and programs are also offered in Detroit, Lansing, Petoskey and Traverse City. Lawrence Tech also offers programs with partner universities in Canada, Mexico, Europe, the Middle East and Asia.

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