Wayne State construction management students gaining real-world experience in annual NECA energy innovation competition

A group of 26 seniors in the College of Engineering’s construction management (CMT) program are representing Wayne State University in the 2021 ELECTRI International/NECA Electrical Contracting Innovation Challenge (ECIC), a competition in which students are expected use their creativity and ingenuity to design a new electrical system for a proposed residence hall.

The competition, formerly titled the Green Energy Challenge, is integrated annually into Wayne State’s senior capstone program by CMT director Joseph Vaglica, Ph.D.

This year’s challenge is an opportunity for students to apply learning from the CMT curriculum into a real-world scenario, from project management — planning, estimating and scheduling — to design and construction of the proposed facility.

Naturally, the ongoing pandemic has added a new wrinkle to the competition. “We have all of our students working remotely from their computers and smartphones,” said Jenny Torrico, secretary of the team’s executive board. “One of our classmates is even attending from overseas due to a work contract.”

Proposed residence hall for NECA competition
A rendering of the proposed residence hall

The team is partnering with representatives from the Southeast Michigan Chapter NECA (SMCNECA), including assistant chapter managers Jim Chase and Jason Head, and has benefitted from the mentorship of such industry professionals as Greg Firman and Eric Galbraith from Conti Corporation, as well as Richard Shaffer from JMC Electric.

Torrico also noted that she and her fellow board members — Zach Ellis, team lead and president; Taylor Lin, co-lead and vice president; and Dakota Harness, team treasurer — have been able to hold monthly socially-distant meetings and host Zoom classes with the team from the SMCNECA office building in Troy.

“Our team is committed to fulfilling competition requirements and project objectives, working virtually between our weekly class meetings, attending monthly webinars on building information modeling and estimating processes,” said Torrico.

The project has five major components: technical energy analysis; electrical and lighting; security and controls; design; and scheduling and estimating. The team also plans to produce a video and maintain a social media presence to document their experience.

Submissions of final proposals are expected by the end of April, with an announcement of finalists in July. Oral presentations at the NECA Convention and Award Ceremony will be judged to determine a winner in October.

Updates from Wayne State and other participating NECA student chapters can be found under the #ECIC hashtag. Follow the WSU team on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Instagram.


Return to news