MELBOURNE, FLA.—While all agree that a good home is a desirable goal, might having a “better home” be preferred? That’s what the Florida Institute of Technology Summit team thought when it demonstrated what a better home could be at the 2013 Northrop Grumman Engineering & Science Student Design Showcase in April.
The team’s project, Build a Better Home, took the President’s Cup Award for College of Engineering. The award was given to just two of the event’s 100-plus projects by Florida Tech President and CEO Anthony J. Catanese. The second award went to a College of Science team.
Professor Ralph Locurcio was advisor to the team, whose project combined principles of civil engineering and construction management, a new bachelor’s degree program that is gaining popularity. “They all had tremendous passion for their project. They believed that what they made could be good for many, many people,” said Locurcio.
“We wanted to demonstrate that construction management is an emerging field that is equally important to all of the other engineering disciplines. It’s one thing to draw a project on paper; you can do anything on paper; but the real work is in actually building the project,” said Mark Anderson, project manager and chief builder.
The four-member team of graduating seniors called itself “Summit” because members agreed that their project was the pinnacle of construction, or “as good as it can get,” said Locurcio.
The team comprised a wide array of skills and, with Anderson, included Colin Barbalace, electrician; Earle Jackson, research and technical calculations; and Brandon Richgruber, the business manager and assistant builder.
“It is the first President's Cup win ever for construction management, a department usually overshadowed by electrical, computer and mechanical engineering. The house is very energy efficient, hurricane resilient, uses a replacement system for CB construction that is virtually fireproof, and is amazingly quiet. They have integrated a pretty cool system,” said Catanese.
The home, wrote the team in its project statement, was to “demonstrate innovative construction techniques, energy and resource conservation, and adhere to local building codes. LEED construction practices should be followed and super insulation must be utilized in the construction. The home should also maximize the use of solar technology and recycled materials while minimizing energy consumption, construction labor and environmental impacts.”
Did the team succeed? “Absolutely,” said Locurcio.
After graduation, Locurcio says, all team members want to do something similar to their project. They want to work for a progressive company that makes use of new techniques to advance the construction profession.
“Our passion for this project is that everyone can benefit from this type of construction. It saves money and produces a better quality of life,” said team member Barbalace.