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Phone: (208) 885-6470
Email: expo@uidaho.edu

875 Perimeter Drive MS 1011
Moscow, ID 83844-1011

Future College of Engineering Innovations building sky view

Engineering a Greener Laboratory

The University of Idaho’s College of Engineering always tries to find opportunities where others see only challenges. Faced with a growing need for more laboratory, office and classroom space as well as a dwindling budget, the college turned to its students to help design the proposed Engineering Innovations Building. And as if that task weren’t difficult enough, the college also asked the group of seniors to make it “green” with a low environmental impact.

Tasked with designing the skeleton of two bays up to two stories tall from floor to ceiling, providing estimates of cost and making the end result LEED certified, the team turned to what they’d learned in the classroom.

But they also had to rely on their own ingenuity.

“Our classes have given us almost everything we need to design the building,” says senior Megan Mecham.

“But we have to be a little more creative and figure out a lot of things on our own.”

“It’s something we’ll see in real life,” adds Casey Coyle. “It’s not something cookie-cutter given to us in our regular design classes. It’s something out of the ordinary that requires us to get down to more detail.”

The project included several modules that the team was unfamiliar with, requiring them to learn the details on their own. Also, a design project like this makes the team use two types of engineering disciplines – civil and structural.

The team had to analyze what loads will be present on the individual steel members of the framework and design the physical structure. But perhaps more importantly, they had to plan the area around the proposed building, which includes drainage, grading and retaining walls.

Additionally, the group says they learned about aspects of real-world jobs not typically taught in the classroom, such as how to give presentations on a regular basis, how to communicate effectively with each other, and how to manage a project revolving around four people’s different schedules and personalities.

“It’s a lot of non-technical project details that we don’t always learn in class,” says Taisei Imamura. “But they are things we’ll have to do. It will be very beneficial for when I graduate and start my new job.”

Innovations Building

The rendering above highlights the environmentally friendly aspects the Idaho Innovations building will feature when it is built. However, these elements were not designed by this team as they include details outside the scope of this project.

Team Members:

  • Jared Barr
  • Casey Coyle
  • Taisei Imamura
  • Megan Mecham

"Our classes have given us almost everything we need to design the building, but we have to be a little more creative and figure out a lot of things on our own."