New Architectural Engineering program becomes first of its kind in Pacific Northwest

Kevin Houser, Ph.D Professor of the Architectural Engineer Program points out the exposed electrical components in Owen Hall.

William Ross, News Contributor

Architectural Engineering has been added to the College of Engineering. This will be the first program of its kind available for students in the Pacific Northwest. 

The Architectural Engineering program was officially available to students starting fall of 2019. 

Kevin Houser, Ph.D, is the sole professor of the architectural program at Oregon State University. He is the only professor teaching all six architectural courses at the moment.  

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Houser said some classes taught under the construction and civil engineering program will become replaced with architectural engineering courses. In time there will also be new classes students will get to pick from that are only architectural engineering.   

The future of the architectural engineering program will not only bring in undergraduate students it will bring graduate students too. 

“As we add some of those specialties, I can envision we will have some additional probably undergraduate and graduate classes as we build out the program,” Ashford said. 

With architectural engineering now at OSU, future and current students won’t be the only ones to benefit. According to Ashford, OSU itself and the state of Oregon will see the rewards of adding an architectural program. 

“It’s the first in the northwest, I think it’s an advantage to Oregon. It may also recruit some students from outside the state. We have a lot of construction companies, design companies and architectural firms that can benefit from this program,” Ashford said.  

“We deal with architectural engineering, with the engineered systems that go into buildings,” Houser said. “That includes building structural systems, heating, ventilating and air conditioning systems, power distribution systems, lighting systems and the construction side of how buildings are engineered and built.”  

According to Houser, OSU’s program differs from regular architecture because it doesn’t deal with the design elements and the actual art of drawing out a building.  

Judy Liu, professor for the School of Civil and Construction Engineering, teaches several classes that are required for engineering students to take. Liu was also a component in bringing the Architectural Engineering program to OSU. 

“Architectural engineering is a natural opportunity to bring a discipline where we can really make change in terms of sustainable design,” Liu said. 

The Architectural Engineering program is currently part of the School of Civil and 

Construction Engineering. According to Liu the hope is, architecture will be added to the school’s name soon.  

Scott Ashford, the Kearney dean of Engineering also wanted to bring the new program to the College of Engineering and was the one to assemble a team.

According to Ashford, with the addition of diversity and the need for the program in the industry, having architectural engineering come to OSU was a smart choice.

“For architectural engineering students, they tend to be a more of a diverse population than some of our other engineering majors,” Ashford said.   

To bring architectural engineering to OSU took some time, according to Liu. A team got together in 2015 to plan out the major, a bulk of the team’s time went to a proposal creation and the approval process.

Liu said they got approval from the state to begin the program in fall of 2018. This allowed them to look for a professor and get the course ready to start the fall of 2019.  

“There’s only six new classes, for the architectural engineering program, but we are leveraging a lot of existing courses,” Liu said. “One of the disciplines within architectural engineering is structural engineering, and we already have plenty of courses to cover that.”   

According to Liu there are certain types of students that may gravitate more towards architectural engineering when deciding to declare it as a major.  

“One reason might be they’re really interested in sustainable design and energy efficiency,” Liu said. “Another type of student that is often attracted to architectural engineering are students who like thinking about architecture, the occupants of the building, human comfort, aesthetic, as well.” 

Ashford said he is proud of how the program has run so far, being that it’s two terms in. 

“I’m looking forward to getting the word out more because this is going to be…a lot of students interested in the program,” Ashford said.

OSU’s Architectural Engineering program aims to teach students what it takes to make a building. From lighting and heating, to sustainability, architectural engineers will take part in a program that is unique to the Pacific Northwest.     

“Buildings today, we don’t really look at them as much as structures but they are really machines,” Ashford said.