Iowa State students apply construction engineering theory to electrical boards

Thirty-nine students, divided into seven teams, compile power drills, load centers, pull wire, screws, circuit breakers, and light bulbs to assemble them onto 2-by-4-foot plywood boards. They build scaled-down building electrical systems – an exciting project in CON E 353, the electrical systems for building course in Iowa State University’s construction engineering program.

Senior Lecturer Jenny Baker  (second from left) and students building components of the electrical system boards.
Senior Lecturer Jenny Baker (second from left) and students build components of the electrical system boards.

Jenny Baker, a senior lecturer in the civil, construction and environmental engineering department, introduced the electrical board project to her course this past spring. “Students have a blast installing components based on theory and drawn system plans that we discuss,” Baker said.

In CON E 353, students learn about theory of building electrical systems and then apply that theory to hands-on electrical board demonstrations. “The underlying objective is to have a better understanding of different voltages and how they work, including when you need what wires to be connected to which phases,” Baker said.

One student team in Iowa State's electrical systems for buildings course successfully completes a electrical board.
One student team in Iowa State’s electrical systems for buildings course successfully completes an electrical board.

Joe Hahn, a spring 2015 construction engineering graduate, helped prepare each of the eight boards that students groups used. “You can only learn so much from a book,” Hahn said. “This project helped me understand electrical systems from a field, non-lecture point-of-view.”

Electrical companies donated a total of $7,500 in materials for the boards, including 3E, Baker Electric, Commonwealth Electric, and Square D by Schneider Electric.

Learn more about the construction engineering program at Iowa State. If you’re ready for a construction engineering adventure at Iowa State, apply now.

One thought on “Iowa State students apply construction engineering theory to electrical boards

  1. Jenny,
    Excellent idea! It seems so simple but the students really get involved with hands-on and a subtle competition will arise. Besides my DEERE training job,I have taught at DMACC here in Ankeny (elctrical motors, electronics, etc) and also made plywood boards with motor starters, PLC’s, wire boxes, simply attached to plywood…and my previous students always express appreciation for the hands-on labs!
    If possible, I would appreciate an opportunity to see your lab area at your convenience…I am always looking for better ideas, especially for LABS!
    Thanks,
    George Hafkey
    John Deere, Training
    Ankeny, IA

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