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Student Recaps from Winter Conference

We had a great Region X turnout at the Winter Conference last month, especially from Student Members! A couple students from the Golden Gate Chapter area have provided recaps from their experiences at the conference. If your Chapter isn't sending Student Members to Winter Conference it may be something you want to consider for next year, and asking those students to provide recaps is a great idea too. If you have any questions feel free to reach out to me (

Alex Nutkiewicsz (left) and Megan Dawe (right)


Recap from Alex Nutkiewicz

Standford University, PhD student: Urban Informatics Lab

Hello fellow ASHRAE members!

I’m Alex Nutkiewicz, and I am a first year PhD student at Stanford working in the Urban Informatics Lab. It’s been about a month since I attended the ASHRAE winter conference in Chicago. As a Southern California native it seemed somewhat uncivilized to be walking on Michigan Avenue in 26-degree weather. Although the noise from my teeth chattering made it difficult to think, I was able to wonder why a scientific society whose mission is to advance human well-being would schedule a conference next to Lake Michigan in the dead of winter. I guess I have a lot to learn.

I sat in on many technical sessions trying to absorb the amazing research in thermal comfort and urban-scale energy modeling - my PhD area of focus. However, I came away from the conference experiencing so much more than that. I was excited to talk with ASHRAE members about how the field has changed over the years and what makes them enthusiastic for the future. I was especially able to visualize their passion at the AHR Expo where I barely managed not to get lost amongst the thousands of booths ranging from air handlers to zone control systems.

One of my favorite parts of the conference was being able to sit in on the Technical Committees. Erik Kolderup, who first taught me about energy modeling, and the rest of the 4.7 Technical Committee on Simulation & Component Modeling, made me feel very welcome, despite easily being the youngest, least experienced person in the room. And, despite my age difference, I didn’t shy from participating in a discussion about integrating urban-scale energy modeling into the scope of the committee!

For those of you who had a hand in helping me get to the conference - thank you. Chicago is a wonderful city and I’m definitely itching to get another chance to visit a future ASHRAE conference!


Recap from Megan Dawe

UC Berkeley, Master of Science in Architecture: Building Science

As a recipient of an Golden Gate ASHRAE Chapter Winter Conference Travel Grant, I attended my first ASHRAE Conference this January in Chicago. My experience included attending a mixture of student program events, ASHRAE program events, and SSPC and TC meetings. I particularly enjoyed the Technical Committee rapid-fire information session, where members from each of the 10 technical areas provided a brief overview of the TCs and ubiquitously encouraged students to volunteer for anything and everything. A highlight of the conference was the plenary session, where several Golden Gate Chapter members were honored for their high caliber work, and Debbie Sterling, founder of GoldieBlox here in the Bay Area, gave an inspiring story-telling speech to promote STEM initiatives for disadvantaged and overlooked kids, especially young girls. I look forward to the continued work of the Golden Gate Chapter’s student activities to partake in initiatives of this type.

I attended SSPC 55 and 90.1, and TC 4.1 and 6.5 meetings. I saw a glimpse of the process for ASHRAE RPs in the TC 4.1 RP 1729 PMS on radiant system cooling loads, where committee provided direction and clarification on study objectives. I was also able to visit the massive AHR expo in between program sessions to view some of the new equipment and technologies. Having now had some time to reflect back on my experience, there are a few recommendations I can offer to first-time attendees:

  1. Get advice from veteran ASHRAE Conference attendees prior to arriving at the event. They can help direct you towards meetings and events that align with your interests.

  2. Absolutely attend SSPC and TC meetings, where you can see and partake in the action!

  3. Speak up if you have an idea or thought, it is highly encouraged.

In conclusion, I would like to thank the Golden Gate ASHRAE Chapter and members for sponsoring me to attend this event. I would especially like to thank each of the members I had the pleasure of meeting at the event, who gave me a warm welcome and insight into ASHRAE.


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