Photo by Zack Sorohan

The Washkewicz College of Engineering will connect to Fenn Hall when construction is completed in December 2017.


February 7, 2017

Engineering students compete to help environment

Downtown Cleveland is becoming home to another cutting-edge building in the form of the new Washkewicz College of Engineering at Cleveland State University.

The unremarkable dirt pile does not yet fit into the urban background, but the steel beams represent the outline, and the visions of those creating it.

As the structure grows in size, this same group considers original ways to ensure the urban building does not have a negative impact.

Senior architects and veteran design teams generate ideas to make the building more efficient and innovative, as well as minimize its environmental impact. While these teams work on the building, another group is being consulted for ideas — the students of Cleveland State.

The United States Green Building Council, or USGBC, is holding a competition for Cleveland State engineering students to design a project for the new Washkewicz College of Engineering that will earn Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, or LEED, credits.

The USGBC certifies a building by ranking it as Certified, Silver, Gold or Platinum, with Platinum being the highest. The more LEED credits the building earns, the higher it ranks. The rank determines how energy efficient and environmentally friendly the organization considers the building.

Designs that have previously earned certifications positively affect the buildings and their inhabitants every day it is utilized. The USGBC reports that these buildings have already kept 80 million tons of waste out of landfills and that the clean air and sunlight that LEED buildings emphasize have affected 2.5 million employees already.

The goal of the competition is very specific — help bring these effects to campus. While participants can be any major or age, most of those who have submitted ideas are involved in civil or environmental engineering.

One of the students who has taken part is Nakitha Shamirpet, a 22-year-old environmental engineering major here at Cleveland State.

Shamirpet is working in a group with other students on an idea to supplement the education to those in the building. For her, the competitiveness did not outweigh excitement.

“It’s good that there is an expansion of the university, and the new block is like a sapling for ideas of many great people,” Shamirpet said of the new Washkewicz College.

The LEED competition will offer a chance for these students with possible ideas at Cleveland State to at least get a t-shirt for their participation, but one lucky group will be fortunate enough to have their idea integrated into the College of Engineering. The names of the winning team will be commemorated with a plaque in the entryway into the new building.

These rewards will be valuable but the students are gathering experience that can not be replaced. Cleveland State offers numerous environmental and civil engineering courses that work on projects directly related to LEED credits. Working on a project that will be evaluated by the USGBC will be particularly useful to students who will work with the organization once they launch their own careers.

Like most universities across the country, an emphasis is placed on sustainability here, especially with the chance to integrate it into an entire building. Cleveland State has an engineering department full of professors and students excited about their contribution to the green initiative through the new construction.

Walter Kocher, Ph.,D., an associate professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Cleveland State, is one of these professors that prioritize the environment, and said he is hoping that the help of students can get the new College to the gold certification.

The certification will help recognize the building and Cleveland State for its work, but Kocher is not losing sight of why the competition and the LEED credits should be important to everyone.

“Sustainable design is not the old way of doing things, it’s new and you have to be forward thinking and willing to create things,” Kocher said of the lucky students who are stepping up to help earn the prestigious Gold certification.


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