Cal Poly Engineering Students Win National ASHRAE Design Competition

January 23, 2018

Mechanical Engineering Students Win National ASHRAE Design Competition

Four Cal Poly mechanical engineering seniors won first place in the 2017 Applied Engineering ­Challenge held by the American Society of Heating Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Engineering (ASHRAE). It was the third time in four years Cal Poly took top honors.

The Cal Poly team included Sunghoon Chung, Austin Hochstetler, Sean Bybee and Antonio De Jesus Aguayo; faculty advisor was Steffen Peuker. The team’s winning air conditioning system design was based on specific criteria that required the use of evaporative cooling to reduce utility costs for low-income families living in Atlanta. Their winning entry reduced energy consumption for household cooling by more than 20 percent.

“It was a matter of modifying a typical vapor-compression cycle,” Chung explained. “By using evaporation to pre-cool the air to pass across the heat-rejection heat exchanger –increasing the temperature difference across the AC unit’s condenser coil – the unit gained a significant boost in overall efficiency.”

“The Applied Engineering Challenge requires not only technical expertise, but also creativity,” innovative solutions and excellent teamwork,” 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 industry.”

Cal Poly’s program is a “hidden treasure,” according to Hochstetler. “The HVAC&R concentration equips us not just with knowledge, but with the capability and opportunities to network and gain one-on-one access to industry professionals that most students just don’t have.”

The award was presented Jan. 20 at ASHRAE’s winter conference in Chicago. The students’ poster display of their design solution was also showcased at the conference.


ASHRAE, founded in 1894, is a global society advancing human well-being through sustainable technology for the built environment. The Society and its members focus on building systems, energy efficiency, indoor air quality, refrigeration and sustainability within the industry. ASHRAE was formed as the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers by the merger in 1959 of the American Society of Heating and Air-Conditioning Engineers, founded in 1894 and the American Society of Refrigerating Engineers, founded in 1904. In 2012, as part of a rebranding, ASHRAE began doing business simply as ASHRAE instead of its full legal name (American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers). Use of ASHRAE reflects the Society’s worldwide membership and services that continue to evolve globally.


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

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