The AIA/AAH PDC Student Challenge 2024 proved to be an exhilarating annual event, fostering critical inquiry, creative ideation, and interdisciplinary collaboration between students and design professionals. This event showcased the brilliance and innovation of our future healthcare architects, engineers, construction managers, and nurses.

Representing MSOE’s Civil and Architectural Engineering and Construction Management Department were four senior architectural engineering students, Elise McMahon, Christabelle Chukwuma-Ugwu, Serra Brehm and Daphne Milkert, along with faculty members Douglas Nelson and Dr. Habib Arjmand Mazidi.

Taking place over 48 intense charette hours from March 15-17, multidisciplinary teams of students from backgrounds in architecture, nursing, engineering and construction management converged at the PDC Summit in San Diego, California to participate in the challenge.

“This competition is unique in the sense that schools do not compete against each other; rather, all faculty members and industry sponsors and advisors collaborate to assist all groups toward a single goal,” said Mazidi.

The teams were comprised of students from five different universities. They were tasked with envisioning a solution to the question of how healthcare design could effectively meet the needs of dense and diverse communities. The challenge centered around the creation of an urgent care facility that offers same-day medical care for minor health needs while addressing critical factors such as carbon neutrality, adaptability to future threats like pandemics, equitable access to healthcare, and the creation of a functional, healing environment.

Over the course of two intensive workshop days, students pooled their experiences and insights, continuously sharing them with industry professionals from sponsor organizations and faculty members. Each day concluded with a presentation of their progress. Projects were then assessed by a panel of jurors, with recognition awarded at various levels. This year’s winning team included MSOE’s Daphne Milkert.

Participating institutions included Clemson University School of Architecture, University of Florida CityLab-Orlando Graduate School of Architecture, MSOE, Montana State University-Bozeman, and University of Washington Construction Management.

The event was made possible through the support of esteemed organizations including the American Society for Healthcare Engineering (ASHE), the Nursing Institute for Healthcare Design (NIHD), The American Institute of Architects (AIA), AIA Academy of Architecture for Health (AAH), and sponsorships from the UC San Diego Health, Clark Construction Group, McCarthy Building Companies Inc., SmithGroup Inc. and Moody Nolan Inc.