Senior Project Wins National ASHRAE Design Competition

A senior project by four Cal Poly mechanical engineering students won first place and $2,000 for an air-conditioning system that uses reclaimed rainfall while trimming household energy costs.

The Cal Poly team of Sunghoon Chung (Seattle), Austin Hochstetler Redwood City, Calif.), Sean Bybee (Torrance, Calif.) and Antonio De Jesus Aguayo (Santa Maria, Calif.) received first place in the 2017 Applied Engineering Challenge held by the American Society of Heating Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Engineering (ASHRAE). Professors Steffen Peuker and Jesse Maddren served as their faculty advisors.

The design competition award recognizes outstanding student design projects, encourages them to become involved in the profession, promotes teamwork and allows students to apply their knowledge of practical design.

It was the third time in four years that Cal Poly took the top honor. The award was presented Jan. 20 at ASHRAE’s winter conference in Chicago.

“The Applied Engineering Challenge requires not only technical expertise, but also creativity, innovative solutions and excellent team work,” said Peuker. The ‘thinking out of the box’ required for this particular ASHRAE challenge fits very well within Cal Poly’s Learn by Doing approach, which helps explain why our students regularly place so high in the ASHRAE competitions and are sought after by the HVAC&R (heating, ventilation, air conditioning and refrigeration) industry.”

Students were challenged to use evaporative cooling to reduce utility costs for low-income families living in Atlanta, where humidity levels range from 40 to 70 percent and summer temperatures regularly peak at 100 degrees. Based on specific criteria, the team’s winning design lowered household energy consumption for household cooling by more than 20 percent.

ASHRAE is a global society advancing human well-being through sustainable technology for the built environment. In 2012, as part of a rebranding, the organization formerly known as the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers began doing business simply as ASHRAE to reflect its worldwide membership and services that continue to evolve globally.

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Pictured from left, team members Austin Hochstetler, Sunghoon Chung, Sean Bybee, Antonio De Jesus Aguayo and faculty advisor Steffen Peuker.