CAD Academy Contest Tests Student Acumen with ArchiCAD
High school students from across the United States recently put their ArchiCAD knowledge to work as they competed in the first annual National LEED Dream Home contest, sponsored by Arizona based STEM curriculum developer, the CAD Academy. The CAD Academy®, is a secondary and post-secondary pre-engineering and pre-architectural program designed to inspire a new generation of engineers and architects at a price educators can afford. Teachers throughout the United States can incorporate it into their curriculum. Winning designs were judged as “Most Unique Design”, “Best Use of Green Features”, and “Best Overall Design”.
The contest requires participants to have a basic understanding of LEED requirements and master ArchiCAD. GRAPHISOFT supports this contest by providing ArchiCAD software so that the students – all in their junior year of high school – can create their idea of an ideal home that is uniquely designed and incorporates sustainable and energy efficient options.
The contest provides students an opportunity to get hands-on experience with BIM software, namely ArchiCAD. That working knowledge of BIM is vital to the students as they go on to pursue a career in architecture or engineering. Given the amount of information the students were asked to process and become adept at applying, ArchiCAD software was an ideal choice for the contest, said CAD Academy president, Stephanie Kvamme.
“I have experience with several types of BIM software and I believe that no other package available today could have fit our needs for this program. ArchiCAD is so intuitive, the students can produce a walk through, place a camera to create a rendering or drop in a jpeg file easily. The students are not bogged down by the process of using the software – and have the freedom to design, dig deeper and accomplish more. Everything they need to create a LEED certified home is there within one box of software.”
CAD Academy administrators get involved with the students’ instructors to ensure that they have a full understanding of what LEED is – but for the purposes of the contest, establish something called “LEED Light” so that it is somewhat simplified. Even so, the accomplishments at the end of the contest are significant in that these young students have to make important decisions about materials, layout and design all within a two to three week period. All things considered Kvamme, says she’s always thrilled to see such impressive real-world possibilities being dreamed up.
“Sometimes I have to remind myself that the submissions are being made by high school juniors – because I can see every single student project actually being built in the real world,” said Kvamme. “Our students are fully capable of sophisticated design and execution at an impressive level. Most of the participants are intent on pursuing architecture as a career, so it is wonderful to see the creativity they apply and know that one day they’ll bring that to the industry.”
Because the contest is open to students from around the country, the projects are as varied as the climates and weather considerations that go with their location. Many students take a close look at ways to solve problems within their own communities – those presented by typical seasonal changes, severe weather and extreme conditions. The contest’s first place winner had a clear flair for architecture – setting up different spaces within the building to segregate them for heating and cooling. He employed thermal bi-metal, used in skyscrapers. Other students designed their homes with recycled materials, took advantage of rainfall to collect water or even designed a desalination plant to harvest nearby ocean water.
For example, one submission from a student in Florida included a home with rounded walls in consideration of hurricane force winds that frequently blow through that particular state – even taking advantage of those winds with an adjacent wind farm to provide energy.
An innovative student submitted a project that finished third overall. The home, situated in Arizona, showed a level of energy and environmental design understanding that was impressed even his instructor. The home was made from adobe that was 2 feet thick, keeping the interior cool in the summer and requiring heat from a fireplace in the winter – basically consuming only the energy created by the home. The submission also featured a separated solar array – to facilitate maintenance required by the heat of the Arizona sun and was completely “off grid”.