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Sketchup-ur-space Magazine - June 14

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Students' designs may meld into Genoa's future

Advanced drafting teacher Phillip Jerbi (center) shows sophomore Justice Graf (right) Thursday how to apply scenery elements to his design of the Genoa Amtrak station during class at Genoa-Kingston High School. (Kyle Bursaw –


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GENOA – Last week, which has been termed “D Week,” was a little hectic for industrial technology students at Genoa-Kingston High School.
“D” as in “drafting,” that is.
Phillip Jerbi, industrial technology chair at the high school, each year tasks his students with solving real-world design problems. In the past, they’ve designed an animal shelter and rehabbed an art center.
After this month’s competition, some Genoa-Kingston High School students might be able to say they had a hand in designing elements of Genoa’s future Amtrak station. Fifteen sophomores, juniors and seniors entered projects in this year’s American Institute of Architects Northern Illinois scholarship competition held Monday in Rockford.
Jerbi suggested that students be tasked with designing the Amtrak station for this year’s project. Officials announced in 2010 that Genoa had been selected as the site of a Chicago-Rockford-Dubuque rail line. Genoa Administrative Consultant Joe Misurelli said Amtrak construction could start this year; it is expected to be in operation by 2014.
Students began working on their projects in November, designing everything in the Amtrak station from the parking lot to the ticket booths.
Jerbi said Amtrak officials worked with the American Institute of Architects to come up with project guidelines, and they indicated the best designs could be incorporated into the actual building. Judging took place Monday, and students from 10-15 schools participate each year. The competition results are expected later this month.
Using computer-aided design and Google SketchUp programs, G-K students submitted three-dimensional renderings and blueprints of the Amtrak station they designed from the ground up.
Students were given guidelines for maximum square footage, with the entire building not to exceed 10,000 square feet. Two green elements had to be included. The guidelines students were given were similar to what architects see from clientele, Jerbi said.
“I really like it because you get to make pretty much whatever you want,” said sophomore Austin Gingerich. “[Jerbi] doesn’t tell us we have to make something. He just gives us guidelines.”
Jamie Meyer hopes the green elements she added to her design would stand out. Meyer, a junior, included pillars that connected to the building’s roof. The pillars were designed to collect water that would be used for toilets and irrigation. She also included windows that hold in heat.
Meyer, who placed last week in the Illinois Drafting Educators Association for a different project, wants to become an architect.
“I really enjoyed it. It gave me a good idea of what I might be doing in the future,” she said. “I definitely still love [architecture]. I probably love it even more after this project.”
Jerbi said having students apply their skills to real-world projects, especially in their own community, has a lot of value.
“The opportunity to see part of their design actually in Genoa gives a little more ownership to the students,” he said. “It makes a huge difference when kids are making stuff that’s going to be used in the community.”
Junior Patrick Felvey participated in last year’s project that required students to redesign an existing six-story building. Being able to design the Amtrak station proved a lot easier, he said. His green elements included a geothermal retention pond that would help heat and cool the building.
“It was a lot of fun and a good experience,” Felvey said. “It’s kind of cool since [the Amtrak] is going to be in Genoa.”

Area high school students can still get involved in a computer-aided design competition offered through Kishwaukee College.
Students can compete for cash prizes by constructing a “whirligig” prototype by fitting in as many pulley, wheel and axle, lever, inclined plane, wedge and screw elements as they can. Whirligigs are mechanical devices animated by wind. Students can use cardboard, fasteners and adhesives as necessary.
The competition is open to only the 10 high schools within Kishwaukee College’s district. The competition is limited to one entry per student. Submissions must be received by March 30. The prize for first place is $300; second place is $200; and third place is $100.
For more information, visit and click on the “H.S. Competition 2012” link in the bottom right-hand corner of the home page.

For questions, contact Mark Schwendau, CAD Technology teacher at Kishwaukee College at or call at 815-825-2086, ext. 3480.

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