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New engineering building dedicated Oct. 18

Engineering Centers Building, 2002

Engineering Centers Building, 2002 (large image)

"The learning experience we envision will provide undergraduate, graduate and continuing education recognized for excellence among the top-10 colleges in the nation. To achieve this, learning must take place inside and outside the classroom, employing a wide range of instructional technologies, delivery mechanisms and effective interpersonal contacts."

Although he spoke them back in 1995, Emeritus Dean John Bollinger could have uttered those words about a progressive engineering learning environment as recently as today. Dedicated Oct. 18, the College of Engineering's new building, the Engineering Centers Building (ECB), embodies that vision a thousand fold.

"It is a key element in our strategic objective of creating the best-possible educational experience for our students," College of Engineering Dean Paul Peercy says about the building.

ECB is the college's first completely new building in 30 years. In the weeks to come, it will become a hub for student creativity and collaboration. Key areas of the building include student projects and activities areas, which provide facilities both for individual and team-project construction and presentation. Engineering student organization offices share meeting space, a move designed to encourage interaction among groups.

At the dedication, Paul LaVanway, co-president of the Polygon Engineering Council, said he is excited about the building's potential to help student organizations grow and succeed. In addition, he praised the college for involving students in ECB's design process and the project's many donors for making the building possible. "We can't help but pause and look back at those who helped us and say thank you," he said.

ECB Dedication, Oct. 18, 2002

ECB Dedication, Oct. 18, 2002 (large image)

ECB Dedication, Oct. 18, 2002

ECB Dedication, Oct. 18, 2002 (large image)

Chancellor John Wiley, who was an associate dean in the College of Engineering during Bollinger's tenure, said the long-awaited building offers an extraordinary space for undergraduates. "The Engineering Centers Building reminds us that in a place where ground-breaking research is taking place, we have not forgotten the importance of educating our students," he said.

The building also houses space for Engineering Career Services, the Department of Biomedical Engineering, Technical Communications, and a myriad of engineering research centers that formerly were located throughout-and in some cases off-the UW-Madison campus.

"The Engineering Centers Building will be a premier research facility," said Peercy. "It is designed to make interdisciplinary interactions between faculty and students much easier. Since many exciting advances in engineering science take place in the boundaries between disciplines, we expect this space to become a model for optimal research interaction."

Philip Albert, secretary of the Wisconsin Department of Commerce, read a letter of congratulations from Gov. Scott McCallum and cited the College of Engineering's contribution to the state's economy via start-up companies, patents and centers and consortia such as the Consortium for Global Electronic Commerce. "The Engineering Centers Building is helping to expand our vision and the governor's vision for economic success," he said.

With its soaring catwalks, balconies and wide-open spaces, ECB is aesthetically pleasing as well. The building's windowed "prow," or atrium, features a 500-pound stainless-steel-and-wire sculpture by artist and inventor R. Buckminster Fuller. "Sixty-Strut Tensegrity Sphere" hangs overhead and is considered one of the most spectacular Fuller works to illustrate the concept of tensegrity, a structural-relationship principle based on balancing forces of tension and compression.

In addition, an 11,000-square-foot terrazzo floor, funded by the Wisconsin Percent for Art Program, takes functional art to a new level. Artist Scott Parsons' design fuses art, science and technology, incorporating an eclectic set of more than 50 images-among them, circuits, an automobile transmission, a crystal array, and a Native American symbol-into his multicolored masterpiece.

The college broke ground for the 204,000-square-foot, $53.4 million Engineering Centers Building in June 2000. Coupled with funding from the state of Wisconsin, gifts from the college's alumni and friends and the Vilas Trust made its construction possible.

During the dedication, members of the UW marching band trumpeted "The Star-Spangled Banner," "Varsity" and "On, Wisconsin," while Bucky Badger mingled with a crowd of nearly 300. A video, "Building a Vision," highlighted the building's planning and construction, and attendees sampled Engineers' High-Tech Hazelnut Toffee ice cream, a special Babcock ice cream created to celebrate engineers and commemorate the dedication of the Engineering Centers Building.