Ali M. Memari, Ph.D., P.E.
It is a great honor for me to start my term as the new President of the Architectural Engineering Institute (AEI) for 2012-2013. I would like to first thank Ray Yunk for his efforts and contributions to AEI as the President, 2011-2012, and to also express my gratitude to the members of the Board of Governors, all Administrative and Technical Committees and of course to the AEI Manager Jennifer Balsley and AEI Administrator Verna Jameson for all the hard work they have done to bring about a very successful year 2011-2012 for AEI.
As one of the eight ASCE technical specialty institutes, AEI provides various types of technical, educational, and professional services to our membership and the profession as a whole. In one sense, AEI provides a platform to promote and support the Architectural Engineering Departments and Programs in universities and the field of Architectural Engineering in practice. Many of the activities of AEI are developed to address such a mission. I would like to use this opportunity to briefly explain what AEI does, the challenges ahead and what can be done to strengthen AEI and help its growth.
With about 7,700 members, AEI represents a unique multi-disciplinary field with members holding academic degrees in Civil Engineering, Architectural Engineering, Architecture, Mechanical Engineering, and Electrical Engineering, or have expertise in Lighting Engineering, Fire Protection Engineering, Acoustics, and Constructed Facilities Security. Although professionals with such degrees or expertise have traditionally been associated with other technical societies, AEI has now been recognized as a technical society for all professionals dealing with all aspects of engineering applications to buildings. In particular, the focus on integration of various disciplines in design, construction, and maintenance of buildings has become like a trademark for AEI, and many of its activities can be identified with the “integration” brand.
Departments and Programs of Architectural Engineering in universities train engineers for careers in several fields of engineering, including structural, mechanical, electrical/lighting, and construction, which are needed by consulting firms or construction industry dealing with buildings. Currently, there are 21 such departments or programs in the U.S., with 18 already ABET accredited and three in the process, and there are three ABET accredited programs in other countries. The Academic Council, one of the Administrative Committees of AEI, represents all 24 AE programs though the participation of AE Department Heads or Program Chairs and sets ABET accreditation criteria as well as help in ABET visits.
Besides the Academic Council, AEI has the following Administrative Committees: Architectural Engineering Exam Committee, AEI Journal of Architectural Engineering Editorial Board, ASCE Charles Pankow Foundation Architectural Engineering Student Competition, Awards Committee, Communications Committee, Continuing Education Committee, Membership Committee, and Conference Committee. The activities planned, organized, administered, or carried out by these committees constitute the majority of what AEI does and is known for, and therefore, AEI Administrative Committees form the real strength of AEI. For example, the AE Exam Committee creates and maintains the AE Exam and holds annual workshops to write and review exams items. The Continuing Education Committee organizes numerous seminars, workshops, or symposiums every year. The Student Competition Committee organizes a yearly national competition.
Several of the Administrative Committees such as Communication, Membership, and Executive Council are relatively new and the Chairs of these committees are working hard to expand the activities and increase participation of members and others interested. The Executive Council is instrumental to raise the funding for student competition. The Communications Committee supports the AEI newsletter and website. The Membership Committee is quite active to support creation of AEI Local Chapters, has initiated Student Rollover Ceremonies in some universities, and has started some social media networking.
The Journal of Architectural Engineering (JAE) has evolved over the years to be recognized as a successful ASCE journal. In particular, since the new Editor, Ece Erdogmus, assumed this responsibility, new energy and enthusiasm in attracting and timely processing of good journal articles is quite evident. Next year, JAE will start a new Special Section on Housing and Residential Building Construction that will hopefully spin off to form an independent journal, making it the second journal of AEI.
The Conference Committee has been active in planning for the biennial AEI conferences. While in the past ASCE conference organizers and AEI staff were mainly responsible for organizing the details of conferences, AEI has started a new approach in organizing the conferences by delegating such responsibility to Universities with an AE Department or Program. Next year, this new experience will show the results when Penn State AE Department will host the AEI 2013 Conference.
AEI currently has nine Standing Technical Committees and Four Task Technical Committees. A Task Committee is different from a Standing Committee in that its responsibility is to develop a specific document, usually a guideline on a certain subject or reconnaissance report. A Standing Committee is normally chaired by an AEI member who champions the activities of the committee. Both Task and Standing Technical Committees benefit from the participation of experts in the field as committee members. However, because of the multi-disciplinary nature of the technical issues of interest to AEI, such committee members need not be ASCE/AEI members. This allows AEI committees to significantly benefit from the expertise and contributions of their colleagues who are not Civil or Architectural Engineers and normally not members of ASCE/AEI.
The Standing Technical Committees consist of the following: Building Enclosure Systems, Building Energy Systems and Optimization Methods, Building Information Modeling (BIM), Curtain Wall Systems, Facilities on Aging, Building Security Rating System, Building Integration Solutions for Abnormal Demands on Buildings, Constructed Environment Engineering, and Seismic Effects on Non-structural Components. The Task Technical Committees consist of the following: Façade Access Design Guidelines, Fire Protection and Life Safety, Green Roof Design Guidelines, and C2P Electrical Installation Practices for Critical Facilities. All members of these committees are experts in the specific field related to the committee and are mainly from the industry, but some are from academia and government, as well. Most of these committees are actively working on various documents, organizing sessions and making presentations at AEI and other conferences, writing articles on the topics of their committees in journals and magazines, and more recently involved in offering webinars.
AEI Technical Committees may be formed as required by the AEI strategic plan, suggestions by the Board of Governors, or proposed by a member or non-member who may be willing to champion the activity. This way, AEI provides many opportunities to professionals and experts to come together under an AEI committee and contribute to the development of the state-of-the-art reports or guidelines in their fields. I would like to encourage colleagues to take advantage of this platform to contribute to the AE profession by getting involved in existing committees or proposing formation of new committees. In particular, because of the multi-disciplinary nature of many topics related to building systems, AEI facilitates formation of such committees and provides an appropriate media for development and publication of specialized technical documents as Manual of Practice.
AEI is especially proud of having active Student Chapters in universities that have AE Departments or Programs. These chapters should be considered as some of the most valuable assets for the AE profession as they provide many opportunities for students to gain executive and leadership experience that will bring great benefit to the industry besides students’ formal education when they start their professional careers. AEI is committed to strongly support Student Chapters and promote their activities. One of the major activities of Student Chapters is participation in ASCE Charles Pankow Foundation Annual Architectural Engineering Student Competition, now in its fourth year. The 2013 Student Competition will take place during the Professional AEI 2013 Conference at Penn State University. The Student Competition is held annually once during the Professional AEI Conference (occurring in odd numbered years) and once during the AEI Student Conference (occurring in even numbered years). The latter is organized and run entirely by students at the hosting university.
Formation of AEI Local Chapters is a relatively new direction for AEI. Currently, there are two Local Chapters: one in Omaha NE, and one in Pittsburgh, PA. One of the important strategic goals of AEI is to encourage the formation of such Local Chapters. These chapters provide various opportunities for Architectural Engineers in a given area to attend lectures, seminars, workshops, special events, and networking. AEI members and Architectural Engineers, especially in large metropolitan areas, are encouraged to consider starting such Local AEI Chapters. AEI will support such initiatives with high priority.
In the coming months, AEI will be quite active in moving forward with several new initiatives that have been planned or already started. AEI will launch a new on-line magazine to provide opportunities for Architectural Engineers and others to share their experiences on interesting projects and product/system developments. Announcement about the new magazine and search for a dedicated editor to champion this publication along with an editorial board will be made soon. The JAE Special Section on Housing and Residential Building Construction will start early in 2013. AEI has recently initiated or is in the process of forming partnerships with several organizations, including American Society of Heating, Refrigeration, and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) and Ornamental Metal Institute of New York (OMINY). Formation of such partnerships is another strategic goal of AEI, which will bring further benefits to AEI membership. AEI will encourage all its Administrative and Technical Committees to hold face-to-face meetings during the biennial Professional Conferences. This provides a unique opportunity for conference attendees to be able to attend AEI committee meetings, learn about the activities, and potentially join some of the Technical Committees. AEI will be working to further enhance its new website and LinkedIn social media launched last year.
In its recent Strategic Planning meeting held in January 2012, the AEI Board of Governors carefully reviewed the results of the 2011 membership survey and considered in its strategic plan as many of the comments made by the members as possible, given the limited resources. This year, we will continue to focus on implementing many of the goals and planned activities developed as a result of membership feedback.
Some of the challenges that we have ahead include increasing AEI membership and providing good value for current membership. Many of the new activities and initiatives already mentioned are developed to address these issues and try to provide more benefits for membership in AEI. I hope current AEI members will help in this great challenge to become more active in what AEI does and in particular start thinking about forming AEI Local Chapters in their areas. AEI hopes to see increased and more active participation of Architectural Engineering Departments and Programs along with their faculty in supporting AEI activities, in particular, its Administrative and Technical Committees. AEI is open to new suggestions and ideas on how to make this ASCE institute the primary professional society for AE faculty and professionals.
This year, there will be further emphasis on Technical Committee activities and outputs. I would like to invite those who have an interest in the areas of our Standing Technical Committees to contact AEI for more active participation. In particular, AEI is very much interested in seeing more participation from colleagues in Mechanical, Electrical/Lighting, and Construction. Furthermore, active participation of building material and product manufacturers in existing committees and formation of new committees is very much encouraged. In closing, I would like to encourage AEI membership to send us comments and suggestions on how AEI can better serve you and your field.
Ali M. Memari, Ph.D., P.E.
President, Architectural Engineering Institute
Bernard and Henrietta Hankin Chair in Residential Building Construction
Director, The Pennsylvania Housing Research Center (PHRC)
Department of Architectural Engineering
Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering
The Pennsylvania State University; 219 Sackett, University Park, PA 16802
Phone: 814-863-9788; E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org