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Spotlight: Program Series with Ron Kellett – Integrated Design Process

March 28, 2019
UBC MEL in HPB Program Spotlight Series

Integrated Design Process

By Ron Kellett, Co-Director of UBC’s Master of Engineering Leadership in High Performance Buildings.

The Master of Engineering Leadership (MEL) program in High Performance Buildings grew out of a recognition of the need for more and better integration of engineering and architecture. We created this program in consultation with leading Vancouver firms who apply an integrated design process. They told us of their need for professionals who are sensitive to both disciplines: engineers who can communicate with designers and designers who can communicate with engineers.

An integrated design process is one of the best ways to ensure that buildings meet ever-higher environmental, economic and social performance expectations. Contemporary buildings not only need to meet increasingly challenging environmental performance codes and standards, they also need to be livable – supporting the health and well-being of their occupants and cost-effective.

An additional challenge faced by today’s engineers and architects in that as cities become increasingly dense and construction costly, design teams are often are asked to achieve high performance goals within very challenging space, design and economic constraints. Getting the right people in the room at the very beginning of the design process is critical. It allows you to better explore the implications of these and other challenges and make decisions that successfully achieve diverse goals.

The High Performance Buildings program recruits engineers and architects from around the world to develop this interdisciplinary expertise through courses and projects that bring design, engineering and business expertise into a creative synthesis.

We run the projects like design studios that simulate a team-based practice. Students work collaboratively, guided by a professional instructor, to define the problem, research alternative approaches and consult external experts to develop and propose innovative solutions.

Vancouver is a global leader in the design and engineering of sustainable cities and high-performance buildings. Some of the best high-performance building professionals in the world practise here. It’s to our further advantage that we are at UBC – a university that is the size of a small city in its own right and also a world leader in sustainable design – and we make full use of the campus as our laboratory. It is one thing to study this subject, and it is quite another to study it on a campus and in a city where these innovative practices are happening all around you.

Our first capstone project, for example, challenges students to analyze and retrofit an existing campus building to meet new standards and guidelines. The second project expands upon that experience asks students to apply their knowledge in a more complex, new building context.

Students in the 2019 cohort are a dynamic, well-balanced group of civil engineers, mechanical engineers and architects, men and women. They bring technical depth and professional experience in their fields, and this program helps them understand how to integrate the technical knowledge they already have with other areas to make buildings that perform at a high level.

Learn more about how the MEL in High Performance Buildings can help you lead change in your industry, giving you the technical knowledge, foundational business skills and leadership confidence to excel in your career. UBC also offers the MEL in other sector-specific programs, including advanced materials manufacturing, clean energy engineering, dependable software systems, integrated water management, naval architecture and marine engineering and urban systems.

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