Wayne State University Wins Electrical Contracting Innovation Challenge

By Holly Sauer | Oct 15, 2021
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Wayne State University, Detroit, took home first place in the 2021 ELECTRI International/NECA Electrical Contracting Innovation Challenge (ECIC). Second place went to Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa, and in third place was the University of Toronto. There were 17 teams that signed up for the challenge, and nine turned in final projects.

Formerly known as the Green Energy Challenge, the ECIC enabled student chapters to problem solve and think creatively. The ECIC also provided new rules for students this year, with all teams working on a new residence hall project, instead of finding their own projects, and attending 15 classes on building information modeling (BIM) and estimating. These courses are not commonly offered in a college curriculum.

After their presentation, the students at Wayne State University stood with their faculty advisors.

To create a new student residence hall, students received a set of construction documents and building information models from ELECTRI. These became the foundation for students to design and virtually construct the most innovative electrical system to meet their customer’s needs.

Students created a plan and talked to their local NECA contractors to help them take into consideration real-world project parameters, including cost, the workforce and more. They had to create a report detailing the design scope, cost estimate and much more, all while keeping the customer’s needs in mind. Each university team was then broken into smaller project teams covering topics such as lighting, estimating, BIM, low-voltage work and more.

To determine a winner, the three finalists—Wayne State University, Iowa State University and the University of Toronto—presented their projects to a panel of judges at NECA 2021 Nashville. Students also fielded questions from the judges after their presentations.

Wayne State University’s proposed residence hall in Midtown Detroit focused on creative solutions for abiding by social distancing guidelines. Their plan would also help meet the growing demand for affordable on-campus housing while working with the university’s finances   and providing for a sustainable environment.

Iowa State’s proposed Hartmann Hall-Towers III residence hall would be located south of the main campus in the Towers Residence Hall Complex. Their design focused on sustainability, security and an enhanced user experience. The team’s net-zero option also includes a ground-based photovoltaic system.

The students from Iowa State presented their plan for a proposed residence hall.

Due to COVID-19 concerns, the University of Toronto’s teams could not present in person, but they explained their project over Zoom. Their proposed residence hall focused on lighting and security needs, accessibility and other electrical requirements. The three-story residence hall would also include a solar photovoltaic system and a net-zero recommendation to add solar panels on the ground and external building platforms. In addition to working with NECA individuals, the team also talked with local Canadian Electrical Contractors Association members.

Wayne State received a prize of $4,000, Iowa State won $3,000 and the University of Toronto received $2,000 for their presentations. Check out a full list of winners here.

About The Author

A woman, Holly Sauer, smiles in front of a gray background.

Holly Sauer

Associate Editor

Holly Sauer is Electrical Contractor magazine's associate editor. Reach her at [email protected]

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