LTU student team a finalist in international architectural engineering competition

SOUTHFIELD—Lawrence Technological University’s team has been selected as one of five finalists in the Architectural Engineering Institute’s 2024 International Student Design Competition.

The final competition will be held in San Jose, Calif. April 8-10.

In the competition, students are asked to design a building for a specific purpose, in a specific location, and of a specific size range. In this year’s competition, the team is designing a Veterans Administration ambulatory care center in Omaha, Neb.  The rules of the competition state that the team’s plans for construction must include information on building integration, how various building systems will be integrated in the structure, and at least one of the following technical categories:

  • Integration, demonstratinghow various building systems will be integrated in the structure and its  
  • Structural, including the foundations, walls, members,floor, and roof framing systems
  • Mechanical, including HVAC, plumbing, and fire protection systems
  • Lighting/Electrical, including power, lighting, and renewable energy systems.
  • Construction, including delivery method, logistics, preliminary project planning, budget,and schedule.

The LTU team is participating in all five technical categories.

The 11-member team received architectural renderings of the VA building at the start of the Fall 2023 semester and has been working on the project since then as part of their senior capstone project.

Team leader Mackenzie Murtha said of the competition: “For me, the most meaningful part of the competition was that the building is for our veterans, for our country. My grandfather served in the Marines and I think it’s honorable and meaningful to work on a project that impacts the people who served our country.”

Murtha said the most challenging part of the competition for her was helping integrate a limestone wall into the structure.

Co-team leader Hunter Assenmacher said that “for me, the most fun part was the opportunity to learn in two disciplines. I’m part of the structural and mechanical teams. Structural designs the foundation, beams, columns, systems to make sure the building stands. Mechanical is HVAC, window selection and wall selection. Balancing the two has been really fun, seeing how the two integrate.”

Both Murtha, of Miami, Fla., and Assenmacher, of Ida, Mich., are fourth-year students in LTU’s five-year combined bachelor’s and master’s degree program in architectural engineering.

Last year’s LTU AEI team was also a finalist, and took home first place in the mechanical systems category and second place in the construction category.

Faculty members working with the team are Keith Kowalkowski, Deok-oh Woo, Morteza Nazari-Harris, and Ahmed Al-Bayati. Kowalkowski is assistant chair of the LTU Department of Civil and Architectural Engineering and an associate professor. Al-Bayati is an associate professor of civil and architectural engineering and director of LTU’s Construction Safety Research Center. Woo and Nazari-Harris are assistant professors of civil and architectural engineering.

More about the competition at

Lawrence Technological University is one of only 13 private, technological, comprehensive doctoral universities in the United States. Located in Southfield, Mich., LTU was founded in 1932 and offers more than 100 programs through its Colleges of Architecture and Design, Arts and Sciences, Business and Information Technology, Engineering, and Health Sciences, as well as Specs@LTU as part of its growing Center for Professional Development. PayScale lists Lawrence Tech among the nation’s top 11 percent of universities for alumni salaries. Forbes and The Wall Street Journal rank LTU among the nation’s top 10 percent. U.S. News and World Report list it in the top tier of the best Midwest colleges. Students benefit from small class sizes and a real-world, hands-on, “theory and practice” education with an emphasis on leadership. Activities on Lawrence Tech’s 107-acre campus include more than 60 student organizations and NAIA varsity sports.

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