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May 1, 2024

Wired for success: UW-Madison engineers ready for ECIC 2024

Badger engineers are returning to the 2024 Electrical Contracting Innovation Challenge (ECIC) following a historic first-place finish in 2023.

“It was UW-Madison’s first time competing, and we were the first woman-majority team to win first place,” shares Elyse Miramontes, BSCE 2024. “We’re excited to return this year with many of the same team members and some new members as well.”

Now in its 16th year, the ECIC is hosted by ELECTRI International to provide college students with hands-on experience in the electrical construction industry, while building professional skills in time management and written/verbal communication. This year’s challenge focuses on technology in the electrical contracting industry and tasks students with several building information modeling (BIM) objectives. 

Similar to last year, students take on the role of an electrical contractor and perform various tasks relating to BIM, layout, and coordination. They are also exploring how different technologies, like BIM and Trimble layout, increase productivity and efficiency in electrical modeling and installation. As evidence of their work, teams submit a proposal for review that includes a BIM Execution Plan, installation drawings, and prefabrication plans. 

NECA teammates toured the new CDIS building on campus with mentors from Pieper Power in preparation for ECIC ’24.

“ECIC relates to many of the concepts we study as students in the College of Engineering, and it gives us a great way to further connect classroom and internship experiences to the real world.”

Professional mentors from Westphal Electric are supporting the team again this year. Additional guidance comes from the NECA WI Chapter and other contractors, providing the students with multiple perspectives on competition tasks and progress, while also bridging the gap between drawing/modeling and work in the field.

Among what the group enjoys most about the experience is the ability to network with different industry professionals and learn more about innovative approaches to electrical construction. The team says the overall project experience highlights the benefits of a collaborative, multidisciplinary approach to problem solving in engineering.

“Adaptability and the ability to use different software have been really helpful. We’ve tried different technologies and found some that work better than others, giving us a deeper understanding of why it’s important to try new, creative approaches in our work.”

Alexa Rademacher shares news from the NECA Student Chapter during the 2024 Construction Club Banquet.

The 2024 UW-Madison team includes graduating seniors Elyse Miramontes, Sophia Wendelburg, Trevor Conway, and Veronica Morse, along with sophomores Kristin Heise and Andrew Miner, and freshman Ava Wendelburg. Alexa Rademacher and Erin Rice, both first-year graduate students in the Civil and Environmental Engineering Department, are student advisors for the team. Together, the group represents the Departments of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, and Electrical and Computer Engineering.

An international jury of contractors and industry professionals will evaluate the proposals, and competition results are expected in July. Three teams will be invited to the Annual NECA Convention in fall.

“We’ve enjoyed expanding our knowledge and skills in the technical aspects of electrical contracting as a team, and we hope to move on to the finals in San Diego this September.”

Featured image: Front row, left to right – Sophia Wendelburg, Civil Engineering; Alexa Rademacher, Civil Engineering; Kristin Heise, formerly Electrical Engineering; Veronica Morse, Civil Engineering. Back row, left to right – Andrew Miner, Computer Engineering; Trevor Conway, Mechanical Engineering; Elyse Miramontes, Civil Engineering. Not pictured – Ava Wendleburg, Environmental Engineering; Erin Rice, Civil Engineering.