This semester, the IIT-NECA (National Electrical Contractors Association) Student Chapter is taking on the 13th annual Electric/NECA Student Chapter competition all virtually due to the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic. The competition is in part with the Energy & Efficiency IPRO, led by Dr. Dan Tomal. The challenge is to use the same contract documents and general scenario as all the other NECA Student Chapters from other Universities across the country to design a newly proposed electrical system for a new student-housing dormitory that would theoretically be built on the Illinois Tech campus.
So far, as a NECA club, we have been meeting every Thursday on Blackboard from 6:40-9pm since the start of the semester. During these meetings, we have hosted local NECA representatives and NECA member contractors to talk to us about real world issues we would likely run into if we were doing this competition in a real electrical design-build setting. One of the NECA representatives we work closely with is Tim Taylor. He has been helping our NECA Chapter get other NECA members to help mentor us when we are lost. With the help of Mr. Taylors outreach, we’ve been fortunate enough to gain the insight from some of Chicago’s most premiere Electrical Contractors including Gurtz Electric, Jamerson and Bauwens Electric, and Continental Electric. Due to being online, we are sometimes able to get NECA individuals to talk to us as quickly as the day we reach out to Tim Taylor for help on the topic. Each of the NECA individuals have brought so much knowledge to our club. We have learned how one would perform an electrical take-off from contract documents, bid on a project with tools like Bluebeam and how to use BIM (Building Information Modeling) to design the electrical system in the dorm. Each of the skills that NECA individuals bring to our NECA club meeting will let us take more to the workforce when we graduate from Illinois Tech.
As a club, we all acknowledge how hard it is to collaborate online to get our tasks done. Each member of our NECA chapter has been working incredibly hard to coordinate virtual meetings and assist each other in building the best bid proposal in the competition. One of the advantages we have found in meeting virtually compared to in-person is that there’s more flexibility for us to meet on forums such as Google Meets, Zoom, Facetime, and even Discord, where you can voice-call your team. This is good because if we were on campus not all us would likely be on campus at the same time, some of us would have to drive or take a train into campus for meetings. Now that we are completely virtual, our team knows we can easily hop onto our laptops from our homes to make sure we get every task done efficiently and effectively. As a NECA Chapter, we all feel good about placing in this competition because each of our members are putting in a lot of effort to get each task done and everyone is willing to go the extra mile!