AEI Student Design Competition

Architectural Engineering Institute (AEI) International Student Design Competition (ISDC)

Last week, the winners of the AEI International Student Design Competition (ISDC) were announced during a virtual awards ceremony. We are proud to have over 30 graduates or current students of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln College of Engineering working here and we are always thrilled to hear about how they supporting the College of Engineering program and advancing the industry. Two of our own, Nathan German, a mechanical designer for Alvine Engineering, and Dalton Rabe, a telecommunications designer for IP Design Group, are currently getting their Masters in the program and were members of the winning team. The team was awarded the 2020 Top Award for Outstanding Achievement in Innovation – Building Envelope, 1st place in Integration, 1st place in Mechanical, and 2nd place in Structural.

Project Description

The team was made up of 10 individuals and broken up into structural, electrical, and mechanical engineering sectors. The goal of the annual competition is to provide a unique venue for students to showcase their architectural engineering knowledge and skills. The project that the team submitted on was a project that is currently under construction, War Memorial Hall on the Virginia Tech campus in Blacksburg, Virginia. This historic renovation design included the original hall that was built in 1924 and the addition from 1972. War Memorial Hall is in a prominent location on campus fronting the Drill Field. The facility is home to Virginia Tech’s recreational sports department, as well as one of the campus’ indoor recreational centers. The renovated facility will serve the university’s student wellness initiatives and departments. For the purpose of the AEI Student Design Competition, the target total building budget will be $45 million.

Architectural Engineering Institute (AEI) International Student Design Competition

Team Contributions: Electrical

Dalton Rabe was the Integration Lead for the winning team. Rabe’s position included ensuring the coordination across disciplines, directing the designs and systems toward LEED certification, and the overall presentation development. The project achieved a LEED Silver certification with 50 points and included innovative systems, such as the photovoltaic system and a new cistern system. He was also a member of the electrical team and designed the audiovisual systems and security systems for the project. Rabe assisted with the lighting design of the interior spaces and the natatorium. The natatorium had a unique lighting solution with indirect pendants placed over the deck of the pool. This design made it easier for maintenance and cleaning, while ensuring minimal glare for users of the space.

Team Contributions: Mechanical 

Nathan German was the Mechanical Lead for the team and they came away with the 1st place prize in the “Mechanical” category. The mechanical design was a hybrid system with water source heat pumping serving larger zones and water-cooled VRF serving smaller zones. The system configuration allowed for 64% in energy savings, compared to a traditional four-pipe system configuration and sourced 33% of “free energy” based on the Department of Energy (DOE). In addition, German was in charge of modeling the energy performance of the facade by utilizing phase change insulation. By increasing the energy performance of the facade, they shifted peak loading times of the building and reduced the mechanical system size by 34%. Lastly, the team provided means for natural ventilation to 94% of the building occupancy by utilizing Foehn winds, active green walls, and operable windows.

Architectural Engineering Institute (AEI) International Student Design Competition

We want to congratulate all of the students and teams on their hard work and dedication on these outstanding projects. For the full list of 2020 award winners and project information, go to

Brandon Rich Durham School Alumni of the YearGary Lange in the mechanical room at 1201 Cass Street.