Engineering a university

Colleges and universities remain a hot market for engineers, whether it’s a new facility or an update of an existing building.


This illustration depicts utility distribution at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign campus, broadly identifying distribution pathways—chilled water is blue, hot water is red, electrical is yellow—none of which is strictly drawn to scale. Creating immediately recognizable aerial perspective illustrations of the university’s built environment as an overlay to the university’s Autocad drawings of utility tunnels, such illustrations facilitate coordination of distribution, supporting both future utility requirements and campus growth. Courtesy: Affiliated Engineers, Inc.The higher education practice at Affiliated Engineers, Inc. (AEI), Madison, Wis., has historically focused on such technically complex, energy-intensive facilities as science and engineering instruction buildings, research laboratories, and translational academic medical centers. Prominent examples include: the 2011 Lab of the Year Wisconsin Institutes for Discovery at the University of Wisconsin; the 2008 Lab of the Year Simon Hall at Indiana University; the University of Minnesota’s Biodiscovery District; the U.S. Green Building Council LEED Platinum King Abdullah University of Science and Technology; and the University of Washington Molecular Engineering Building.

With the growing importance of sustainability and energy conservation on college and university campuses, AEI’s expertise in energy-efficiency strategies and technologies has expanded the firm’s focus to include such nontechnical buildings as classrooms (Alan B. Miller Hall at the College of William and Mary, Mason School of Business), libraries (North Carolina State University James B. Hunt Jr. Library), and student unions (the University of Washington Husky Union Building, the University of Wisconsin Hillel). Balanced by the firm’s long-standing utility infrastructure practice, AEI provides institution-wide demand- and supply-side direction to climate action plans (Cornell University and others) and energy/infrastructure plans (Ohio State University).

Higher education projects have become more comprehensive, including multiple departments and constituencies, manifold schedules, and an assortment of funding sources. AEI uses an in-house communications staff of technical illustrators and graphic designers to create imagery that helps clients and project partners quickly visualize existing or planned engineered systems, regardless of their varying levels of technical sophistication.

AEI’s illustrators work in Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Illustrator, and Google Sketchup programs, sourcing 2-D campus shadow-footprint maps, which they redraw using satellite photography to then extrapolate building volumes.

Broge is a principal at Affiliated Engineers, Inc. He is the higher education market leader.

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