A great way to get involved in organizations is to join one of the many competition teams on campus. There are many competition teams that focus on your individual major. I chose to join the NECA (National Electrical Contractors Association) student chapter at MSOE. I’m a senior student pursing a dual degree in Architectural Engineering with an electrical specialty and Construction Management, this organization suits me well as not only is geared to towards the electrical side of things which my Architectural Engineering degree is focused on but also towards contractors which brings in my construction management degree.
The main focus of that organization is in working on the Green Energy Challenge. The objective of the green energy challenge is to study what energy efficient upgrades can be done to a specific building and improve upon it. This year our competition was to retrofit the Roy W. Johnson dormitory. As that building has not been changed since it was built in 1965 there was a lot of upgrades that could be done to it including the lighting fixtures, solar upgrades, as well as motor controls. There was a lot of work that had to be done and our group of seven organized a 50 page proposal on the project. Judges then determined the top three finalists from 11 entries submitted by some of the top schools of the nation. Our school was chosen along with University of Washington and Youngstown State University to give a presentation on our proposal at the NECA national convention in San Diego.
From then on we put a lot of work into our presentation practicing multiple times each week not only to ourselves but also other faculty and local area contractors. They provided great feedback that improved our presentation. Once we got to San Diego the stage we had to give our presentation was a big shock as it was a giant widescreen display behind us with a camera on the presenter and our PowerPoint presentation on the other side as well as bright stage lighting. But we came well prepared to the presentation knowing exactly what we were going to present and did a great job obtaining first place as the 2011 National Champions of the NECA Green Energy Challenge winning $8000 for our organization. The rest of the trip in San Diego was a lot of fun and with our presentation over left the rest of the time open to celebration.
Overall the project was a lot of work but in the end paid off and provided each of us with lots of real life experience as well as another thing to add to our resumes. I would recommend that students get involved in some kind of student organization on campus as it will not only give you something to do but also help you out a lot in the long run.