University of Arizona Establishes Degree Program in Architectural Engineering

Architectural engineers focus on design and construction of a building's components, such as framing, stairwells, concrete and insulation materials, and its systems, including electrical, HVAC, plumbing and fire protection.

The University of Arizona is offering a new undergraduate program to better prepare engineers to work in collaboration with architects.

The Bachelor of Science in architectural engineering is based in the Department of Civil Engineering and Engineering Mechanics, offered in partnership with the School of Architecture in the College of Architecture, Planning and Landscape Architecture.

"This four-year curriculum seamlessly blends core engineering subjects like math, statistics, mechanics, physics and chemistry with architectural courses in theory, history and drawing," said Kevin Lansey, professor and head of the Department of Civil Engineering and Engineering Mechanics.

"By combining architecture's big-picture, top-down approach with engineering's component-up approach to building design and construction, we will produce a new kind of engineer who can mix easily with traditional structural engineers, architects, construction managers and building owners."

As one of only four universities west of Texas offering an undergraduate architectural engineering degree, the UA will expand opportunities for students and the pool of qualified job applicants in Arizona, said Ronald H. Schneider, founder and principal of the Tucson office of Schneider Structural Engineers.

Incoming freshmen and sophomores can start the new program in fall 2017. Career paths include working at engineering, architectural or construction management firms. Graduates also can become licensed professional engineers or pursue graduate studies.

"When hiring, we look for engineering students who have taken courses in architecture, because it shows they have an interest in architecture — an attractive attribute in a job candidate," Schneider said. "This new degree will make UA civil engineering students even more attractive to firms like ours."

Architectural engineers focus on design and construction of a building's components, such as framing, stairwells, concrete and insulation materials, and its systems, including electrical, heating, ventilation and air conditioning, plumbing and fire protection. This work ensures that a building will stand, be energy- and cost-efficient, and be capable of weathering environmental pressures such as storms, floods and earthquakes.

"Architects design what you see. Architectural engineers design what you don't see," Lansey said.

Whether focused on a building's aesthetics or internal workings, professionals on construction projects increasingly work in teams.

"Traditionally, a property owner would hire an architect or engineering consultant to draw up plans and write specifications for a building, then launch a bidding process to select a builder," said Dean Papajohn, associate professor of practice, who leads the construction management track in the UA's civil engineering program.

"Sometimes this has led to conflicts among the parties. Now many building projects are taking a design-build, or integrated project delivery, approach where an owner hires a team of engineers, architects and construction managers under a single contract," Papajohn said. "We are training students to work on integrated teams like these."

Architectural engineering students at the UA will learn to think and speak like architects, while making sure that a building is structurally sound, meets codes, and stays within budget and on schedule. They will spend their senior year working on a capstone design project in the labs and loft spaces of the College of Architecture, Planning and Landscape Architecture.

Learn more about the curriculum and requirements for the architectural engineering program online. For more details, contact Kevin Lansey, head of UA Civil Engineering and Engineering Mechanics, at lansey@email.arizona.edu or 520-621-6564.

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