Over the past few months, the School of Engineering and Applied Science has been getting a face lift.
More precisely, different parts of the Engineering School complex — which consist of the Towne and Moore buildings as well as Levine and Skirkanich halls — have undergone renovations that are changing both the technological capacity and appearance of the school.
The two largest projects have been the redesign of the Detkin Laboratory in Moore, formerly known as the RCA Lab, and the Mechanical Engineering and Applied Mechanics office suite in Towne.
Additional renovations include smaller changes to other parts of the Engineering complex and to the Laboratory for Research on the Structure of Matter, located on Walnut Street.
Engineering School Dean Eduardo Glandt said that while such renovations typically occur every year, this was a particularly “rich summer,” in part because alumni contributions made the MEAM suite and Detkin lab projects feasible.
Bringing the Engineering School architecture up to speed has been a major priority for the school throughout Glandt’s tenure as dean, he explained.
“We were 50 years behind, and the physical sciences need good labs,” he said. He added that better equipped, more attractive facilities are important tools in recruiting new faculty members and students.
“If you have a nice facility, people are much more interested in coming,” agreed Ira Winston, the executive director of Computing Services for the Engineering School, the School of Arts and Sciences and the School of Design, who additionally serves as Facilities Director for SEAS.
Winston — who has also been dubbed the “space guru” by Glandt — acts as a liason between Engineering faculty and outside contracting and design companies hired for large renovation projects. He explained that the need to update the Engineering buildings’ central air systems, which were installed in the 1960s, has provided a good opportunity to start full-scale renovations on certain labs and offices.
MEAM chairman John Bassani said that the suite renovations have already created a more comfortable and impressive environment. “The department has a grander presence now,” he said.
As for the Detkin Lab, its transformation has gone so far as to reverse one alumnus’ literally shocking experience. Peter Detkin, an Electrical Engineering graduate and founder of the invention promotion company Intellectual Ventures, was once thrown across the RCA Lab after touching a high tension wire, which is why he is funding and overseeing much of the renovations, according to Glandt. “Given the history, he really wanted his name on that lab,” he said.
The Detkin updates include larger work spaces for students and new digital technology expected to arrive by mid-November, said Siddharth Deliwala, lab manager for Detkin and the rest of the Electrical and Systems Engineering labs.
“The new equipment will allow us to think of things we could never do before,” Deliwala said, adding that he believes the new facilities can give students more access to a welcoming environment.
Senior and Electrical Engineering major Paul Martin agreed, describing the renovated Detkin as “a lot better” and saying these changes make a difference for the many students who spend so much time on research. “It’s more than just a lab,” he said.
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