PhD Student

Jim Butler
Contact Information:
Scott Campus (Omaha)

Ph.D. - AREN

Expected Graduation Date:
May, 2023

David Yuill

About Me:

Jim Butler completed his MAE through the Durham School and worked for 2 years in industry as an HVAC and Plumbing design Engineer-in-Training. He returned to the University in 2018 to pursue his PhD in Architectural Engineering.

Jim is working on developing hands-on learning modules for the Mechanical Option of the AE program using a live, independent building mechanical system. These modules will support existing HVAC courses and future courses in building systems and integration. The goal of the work is to determine if teaching these topics in a hands-on environment can improve teaching efficiency. As the built environment becomes more complex, and as building and energy codes become more stringent, the required knowledge base for competent engineers is increasing. Finding ways to teach topics in less time with better student outcomes (deeper undestanding, better retention) allows for the teaching of more nuanced and complex topics as part of the curricula. 

Academic Background
  • Ph.D., Architectural Engineering, 2018-Present 
  • MAE, Architectural Engineering, University of Nebraska Lincoln (at Omaha) 2016

Capstone Project: An Analysis of Recovery and Reuse Options for Rejected Heat from the Holland Computing Center Location at PKI

  • B.S., Architectural Engineering, University of Nebraska Lincoln (at Omaha) 2015
Areas of Research and Professional Interest
  • Hands-on Learning as a tool for teaching effectiveness
  • Teaching Technology to STEM students
  • Engineering student recruitment, retention, and graduation rates
  • Fault Detection and Diagnostics
  • System and Component Efficiency
  • Smart Buildings, sensors, and controls
Courses Taught
  • AREN 4940-Interactive Mechanical Systems

Butler, J., and Yuill, D. (2021). "Experiential Learning for Teaching Heating Ventilation and Air-conditioning Engineering." Frontiers in Education. October, 2021.


ASHRAE (American Society of Heating, Refrigeration, and Air-Conditioning Engineers)

ASPE (American Society of Plumbing Engineers)

ASEE (American Society of Engineering Education)


effective teaching; hands-on learning; curriculum development; HVAC systems and controls