Throughout the Fergus Falls Library remodeling project Gausman & Moore worked frequently with The Weidt Group. The result was a more comfortable and energy efficient space for library patrons and staff. For the past few months this project has also helped educate young engineers.


The Weidt Group’s Jim Douglas and Ryan Schwartz have been working with five University of Minnesota engineering students on their capstone project. G&M’s Blake Guither (Mechanical Engineering, Roseville office), recently spent some time with the students as well.


“I enjoyed meeting the students and imparting some engineering wisdom to them,” said Blake. “These are bright students with great futures ahead of them.”


Since January, the students have learned quite a bit about the engineering world. The Fergus Falls Library project was selected because the building type is easy for students to grasp, it has high-energy performance standards that required technical innovation, and was a strong partnership among the firms that worked on the project. They also learned about the variety of thermodynamic processes and equipment available in the marketplace to meet thermal comfort and ventilation requirements.


“Getting the perspective of MEP designers was helpful for the students,” said Jim. “We truly appreciate Blake’s availability and the support of Gausman & Moore.”


 The students have learned quite a bit during this capstone process, said Ryan. Key topics include:


  • Gathering design requirements and prioritizing them
  • There may not be one solution that satisfies everything
  • Determining what is a “must have” versus a “best we can accomplish now”
  • Leaving future flexibility for the client

The students researched a variety of HVAC concepts and then compared their decisions with design professionals. Jim and Ryan’s goals for the students included teaching them to work as a team and possibly guiding them toward a career of HVAC, building design/operation, or engineering consulting.


“They have a good foundation of the creativity available in the marketplace to advance energy performance design for buildings,” said Jim. “We hope the core values of considering many options in design while restricted by budget and schedule will be replicated wherever they go.”


The students completed their capstone on April 30 with a design show. Their project was judged along with other student capstones and evaluated based on how the students solved the design problem, presented their solution, and engaged the audience in a trade show type setting.


“Seeing the students’ commitment to a common design goal that they developed themselves as a team is the most rewarding part of teaching for us,” said Jim.