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Student team earns award at national competition

Friday, August 25, 2017

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A team of students earned a Rising Star Award in the System Selection category recently for the American Society of Heating, Refrigeration, and Air Conditioning Engineers’ Student Design Competition.

Joseph Guerra, Caleb Barlow, Alex Preisser, Andrew Pinckney, Santosh Giri and Mahmoudreza Vaziri entered the competition for their Spring 2017 senior design project.

ASHRAE Rising Star award winning team

Members of the UTA Rising Star award winning team from are from left: Santosh Giri, Andrew Pinckney, Alex Preisser, Joseph Guerra, Reza Vaziri and Caleb Barlow. The team earned a Rising Star Award in the System Selection category recently for the American Society of Heating, Refrigeration, and Air Conditioning Engineers’ Student Design Competition.

Guerra – the team captain – now works at Purdy-McGuire, a 60-year-old mechanical, electrical and plumbing engineering services company. The firm has helped with the many designs all over North Texas, including Texas Live!, the Texas Rangers’ new entertainment and hotel complex.

The ASHRAE Student Design Competition recognizes outstanding student design projects, encourages undergraduate students to become involved in the profession, promotes teamwork and allows students to apply their knowledge of practical design.

“We had to select a baseline HVAC system and compare them to see which would be the best related to cost, efficiency, life cycle, sustainability and environmental impact,” Guerra said. “The competition requirements emphasized compliance with ASHRAE standards, which exposed us to professional application design standards. ASHRAE also provided us with owners’ requirements for the project such as building size, room types, desired interior conditions, and budget. These requirements aided us in selecting HVAC equipment that would be suitable for that building and the specific climate.”

For Guerra, he believes the senior design project and subsequent Rising Star award helped him obtain the Purdy McGuire position.

“What we learned in senior design helps in the professional world. It is relevant experience,” Guerra said. “It’s what we do here at Purdy-McGuire.”

Raul Fernandez, professor in practice in the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, was the lead professor for the senior design sequence.

“UTA students graduating with a bachelor of science degree in mechanical engineering are required to complete a design capstone course which spans their final two semesters of study. This course emulates a real-world, team-based design experience to prepare students for full-time engineering work—involving a combination of analysis, simulation, and prototyping activities,” Fernandez said. “Senior design is one of the most memorable and significant learning experiences for our students because it ultimately represents the reason they became engineers: to solve real-life problems with real-life constraints.”

Bob Woods, UTA professor of mechanical engineering and adviser for the FSAE student racing team, lent his support from a faculty perspective.

Fernandez also sets up senior design teams with professors from other engineering disciplines that could help with advice.

In this team’s case, Fernandez also reached out to the Fort Worth ASHRAE chapter – primarily Viet Le and Mike Tamagni from Jacobs Engineering and Scott West from HFA – to help this student team with the HVAC knowledge needed to earn the Rising Star award.

Guerra will be representing the team at the National ASHRAE Winter Conference in Chicago this January.

“I’ve also told Dr. Fernandez that I certainly want to be a contact and adviser for this year’s group of seniors,” Guerra said. “It’s just a way of giving back.”