BUILT TO LAST:
New ME Building ready for generations of innovation
ore than 250 college faculty, staff, students, alumni and friends gathered in the soaring main atrium of the new Mechanical Engineering Building one crisp October morning, eager to celebrate a new engineering feat: the building itself.
Shared by the Department of Industrial & Systems Engineering and the Department of Mechanical Engineering, the stately Italian Renaissance-style building recently underwent a $50.5 million construction and renovation project—the only major overhaul since its construction in 1930—that now will give its occupants technological flexibility for years to come. The College of Engineering dedicated the building in an October 26 ceremony in the building atrium.
“This is a long-awaited, exciting day for all of us: For the planners, donors, builders and alumni; for faculty, staff and students,” College of Engineering Dean Paul Peercy remarked during the dedication. “In these modern facilities, our talented faculty and staff will lead us into a new age of knowledge and discovery, while preparing new generations of engineers to deal with challenges that are growing in scope and complexity.”
After the ceremony, the department held an open house, giving guests the opportunity to explore the new laboratory space and learn about projects in many of the research labs and centers from the faculty and graduate students who run them. “This is a space that will enable meaningful, cutting-edge research for the next century,” says Roxann Engelstad, professor and chair of mechanical engineering. “The building supports the great diversity of research within our department, yet facilitates opportunities for cross-pollination of ideas and projects.”
The lab spaces were designed to accommodate future advancements in technology or changes in research directions. The research areas are outfitted with increased power capabilities and a state-of-the-art heating, ventilation and air conditioning system—critical features for research, says Associate Professor Nicola Ferrier, who directs the Robotics and Intelligent Systems Laboratory. In addition to these provisions for future equipment needs, all four floors can support up to 200 pounds per square foot, giving researchers the flexibility to add or move equipment as their fields evolve. “There really is the sense that I could change or adapt,” says Ferrier. “I could get new equipment and not have to worry about how I would power the room, or whether I’d be able to get the equipment to run.”
To read more about this milestone, visit www.engr.wisc.edu/alumni/perspective/34.1.