U of I engineering students offer winning designs for new arena

Congratulations to the five University of Idaho engineering teams who presented during the Engineering with Wood Design Awards.  First and second place teams were chosen based on their use of timber as an innovative design solution and efficient use of materials.

Teams of graduate and undergraduates engineering students were challenged to design three sustainable structural concepts made primarily from timber materials for the future Idaho Central Credit Union Arena, a 4,200-seat arena on the U of I campus that will be the home of the men’s and women’s basketball teams and a gathering place for academic events, concerts and meetings.


Students (left to right) Olaniyi Arowojolu, Joshua Graff, Nathan Bemis and Nicole Tompkins took first place for their presentation showcasing three very different design options that all heavily used timber as the primary building material.

View First Place Presentation


The second place team poses with the judges (left to right:  Brian Sielaff (Tamarack Grove Engineering), Scott Breneman (Woodworks), student winners Connor Aus, Nathan Johnson, Dylan Lamberton, Cooper Felton, Mahmoud Mohamed, Trevor Stone (PotlatchDeltic) and Eric Hasenoehrl (Keltic Engineering).  This team won for its design and conscientiousness toward occupant impact.

View Second Place Presentation

In addition to commemorative plaques, the first and second place teams received $600 and $400 dollars respectively.  The awards were presented on November 29, 2018, on the U of I campus.

For thousands of years, wood has been used as a building material. Modern timber products and systems have greatly expanded the potential uses of this historic material. Timber is an ideal green building material: it is well suited for a broad range of structural and aesthetic applications, it offers economical construction and high-performance characteristics; and wood is an economic driver to maintain forests and protect jobs in rural communities.

The teams were judged by a panel of professionals (pictured and named above) based upon the best structural design using wood that demonstrates a creative solution and knowledgeable application.


Architectural renderings of the arena, which showcases a massive curvilinear roof that drapes over the building, were provided to the students to start the design process.  Students were required to provide at least three alternatives for the main framing system, perform structural analysis using special software, conduct comprehensive timber design, prepare detailed calculations for the most economical solutions and present the final design using AutoCAD-generated drawings.

The Engineering with Wood Design Award is a partnership between the Idaho Forest Products Commission and the University of Idaho College of Engineering, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering.  The competition is designed to encourage, recognize and support the creative and innovative use of wood in structural design. It promotes the use of wood as a structural material and provides hands-on opportunities for engineering students to learn about Idaho forests, sustainable forest management, wood products and manufacturing including the structural and environmental benefits of building with wood.

View More About the Competition