UCL Institute for Environmental Design and Engineering


Smart Buildings and Digital Engineering MSc students create their own ASHRAE branch

2 September 2020

Students from the Smart Buildings and Digital Engineering MSc have created their own branch of the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE).


Founded in 1894 ASHRAE originally stood for the American Society of Heating Refrigeration and Air-Conditioning Engineers. Over time it has evolved to represent all aspects of the built environment including occupant well-being, building systems, energy efficiency and sustainable technologies to name a few. Through its 57,000 members, across 132 countries, ASHRAE promotes advancement in the built environment through its research, handbooks, standards, and outreach programs. Through ASHRAE efforts, designers across the globe gain a better understand of the fundamentals as well as the latest technology as they work towards a healthy and sustainable built environment for all.

Afred Uzokwe and Jakub Ostrowski, the students who set up the branch, believe that the future success of the built environment lies in selfless cooperation and knowledge exchange of the youngest individuals. By creating this ASHRAE branch they wanted to expose students to more practical and diverse activities so that they could  acquire a better understanding of the industry, meet experienced professionals, and engage in discussions that re-evaluate their experience through a professional lens. 

When asked how the SBDE MSc links to ASHRAE they said:

The SBDE MSc offers a thorough grounding in the science and engineering of building systems integration. And a lot of these scientific research into building systems integration stemmed from ASHRAE. And both support those early and mid-career professionals looking to expand their technical skills and knowledge and keep abreast of the latest developments in their field."

The sole purpose of the ASHRAE UCL Student Branch is the sharing of knowledge, experience, and opinions. The activities that the branch offers, which are an extension of academic activities, were and will be entirely up to the members of the branch who wish to take on interesting opportunities. This year we started with a series of guest lectures hosted online attracting both highly esteemed ASHRAE members and industry experts to talk to our student members about highly relevant topics. These talks were also a chance for students to ask questions of their own, discuss subjects of their choice or engage in the network. Unfortunately given the new circumstances caused by COVID-19 we were not able to complete many other planned activities.

The students are currently participating in the 6th Annual ASHRAE LowDown Showdown competition. They have been challenged to design a 15-storey mixed-use building that gets as close to zero energy and zero carbon as possible. This competition is well aligned with the SBDE MSc as students get to use many of the digital engineering tools that they have been exposed to during the programme in new ways to meet their design goals. The team consists of 10 members, 6 of whom are from the SBDE MSc programme. 

The students said:

It has been a steep learning curve, but it has been rewarding to take what we have learned in the programme and take it even further. Overall, it has been a good way to get involved in industry from a more professional perspective. "

The students involved also use the ASHRAE branch they have created as a way to facilitate mentoring, the ultimate chance for students to confront the engineering profession before entering it after graduation. The SBDE MSc enables students to form a relationship with an industry expert assigned based on the student's interests and needs.  It is a highly dedicated opportunity, tailored to each student separately because the Mentor agrees to commit uninterrupted time to their Mentee. Activities that happen during that time are in entirety dependent on, discussed and agreed on between the Mentee and Mentor. They can vary from a discussion, to a shadowing day or a site visit. Essentially, this can be everything the student needs to be well equipped to enter the industry confident and ready.

Branch founders
  • Alfred Uzoke Jr. - President
  • Jakub Ostrowski - Vice President
  • Felicia Deonarine - Treasurer
  • Jane Huang - Secretary
  • Dr Yi Zhang - UCL Branch Advisor
  • Ljubomir Jankovic - ASHRAE UK London & South-East Chapter Supervisor

If you would like to know more please email: uclstudentbranch@ashrae-london.com or visit the ASHRAE UCL Student Branch Linkedin.


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