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Illinois Institute of Technology Wins 2018 NECA Student Chapter of the Year Award

Oct 26, 2018

Student leaders at the National Electrical Contractors Association’s chapter at the Illinois Institute of Technology have worked hard from the beginning to establish it as one of the best in the country. It recently paid off in a major way. 


IIT chapter students (left to right) Ryan Schonken, Alouki Shah, Gaoshua "Myka" Chang, Taylor Thompson, Conrad Yeung, Michael Hickey, Antwan Ahmed and faculty advisor Daniel Tomal (far right) join NECA President David Long during NECA 2018 Philadelphia.

The Illinois Institute of Technology was one of three NECA student chapters to discuss their projects at the ELECTRI International Green Energy Challenge during NECA 2018 Philadelphia this fall. Looking back, chapter co-president Gaoshua “Myka” Chang remembers most of all what was required to get there. It was not without some sleepless nights and many drives to their project site. 

“It took a lot of time, energy, sweat and tears, but we were able to keep on pushing and keep our heads up to complete our proposal,” she said.

Click here to view their proposal

The judging panel in Philadelphia came away impressed with the IIT chapter’s Net Zero Energy plan and presentation for the Institute of Cultural Affairs in Chicago. (The building they chose was brought to their attention by advisor Dan Tomal.) The chapter placed first in the writing portion of the competition and third in presenting portion.

“We created a core team that put together the proposal,” Chang said. “Each team member was tasked with leading a certain part of the proposal based off the rules given to us. Many other students had interest, and the core team was able to become teachers to these other students about the systems within a building and Net Zero.”

In addition to its Green Energy Challenge proposal, the IIT chapter, which was started in 2009, has found success in other areas. And earlier this year, it was named NECA's 2018 Student Chapter of the Year. High on its list of accomplishments: working on the creation and enhancement of the NECA Chapter IIT Smart Tech Lab, including a Power over Ethernet automated lighting system, which was done by raising more than $180,000 in cash and in-kind contributions and with the help of electrical contractors.

“We really thought it was a deserving award for the students,” Tomal said.

Chang, a fourth-year student from Cottage Grove, Minn., majoring in architectural engineering with a minor in engineering graphics and CAD, called the honor “amazing.”

“I wasn't expecting it, to be honest,” Chang said. “I am really proud of our team, and I hope we can keep this up for next year.”

If the IIT chapter’s track record is any indication, it’s in a strong position. Activities include holding weekly meetings, planning events and volunteering efforts, and working with the local NECA chapter. Regular guest speakers are brought in to talk about topics related to electrical construction, ranging from project management and business development to LEED and BIM. 

The assistant chapter for NECA’s Chicago and Cook County Chapter, Tim Taylor, said he and his colleagues facilitate activities and mentor students in IIT’s chapter, many of whom go on to find careers in electrical construction firms in the area as well as the industry. 

“They earned it,” Taylor said of the NECA Student Chapter of the Year recognition. “It’s been a joy to be able to connect with these students.”

Members of the chapter, which usually has about 50 members, participated in the production of a video with NECA President David Long earlier this year. Tomal said it also has plans to develop another extension/program to the Smart Tech Lab that supports the electrical industry. 

“There are so many opportunities out there if you just ask around and look for them,” Chang said. “NECA is really very rewarding if you put your all into it.”


NECA currently has 35 student chapters in the United States and Canada. Any college or university with a construction management or related program that encourages students to pursue careers in the electrical construction industry is eligible to apply for NECA affiliation as a student chapter. NECA’s goal is to establish and nurture successful, productive NECA student chapters. Some of the benefits of involvement include:

  • Interaction with local NECA contractors and prospective employers
  • Field trips to job sites and contractor headquarters
  • Grants awarded by ELECTRI International
  • Opportunities to participate in annual student competitions and win cash awards
  • Expanded horizons through participation in the student service projects
  • Participation at NECA’s annual convention

Learn more about NECA’s student chapters, and be sure to visit NECA’s student chapter pages on Facebook and LinkedIn to connect and participate in discussions.