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UL engineering building to enhance collaboration, cohesion, new learning – The Advocate

A rendering of the new engineering building on the campus of the University of Louisiana at Lafayette.
A rendering of the new engineering building on the campus of the University of Louisiana at Lafayette.
The University of Louisiana at Lafayette may break ground as early as next year on a 70,000-square-foot College of Engineering facility that will help enhance instruction and improve research and technology development skills for the 1,700 enrolled students.
Ahmed Khattab, dean of the college, said the building’s components will help advance the college’s intention to develop student skills and advance students’ own ideas through maker space areas. Other areas of the building will create cohesion across the college’s academic majors — chemical engineering, civil engineering, electrical and computer engineering, engineering technology, mechanical engineering and petroleum engineering — and encourage collaboration within the college that will help drive the research mission that’s built into the college and across the campus.
Khattab said the building, which carries a $50 million price tag, will constitute “a cutting-edge learning environment that will produce well-rounded, career-ready engineers and technologists who meet the needs for current and future engineering and technology professions.”
The building will fit comfortably in available campus space between Oliver Hall and a parking garage near the college’s two existing buildings: Madison Hall, built in 1957, and Rougeou Hall, built in 1988. Both will be used for classroom space and labs. An overhead bridge will help move students quickly toward other engineering buildings.
Academic features of the new building will include classrooms, maker space, huddle rooms, conference rooms, study rooms and seminar rooms. Areas that encourage student collaboration and community include a cafe, student commons and atrium area and student lounges. Areas that enhance student development and counseling include the Mosing Student Center for Outreach and Career Development, Student Center for Excellence for Student Success, board rooms for student organizations and offices.
The dean’s office and faculty and staff lounge will be located in the new building. Khattab said the building will operate 24/7.
“That is the idea we will develop in the future,” Khattab said. “How does the new building support the academic buildings of the college — we are going to give them a way to have flexible buildings.”
The new building will provide spaces to relax and offices and lounges for organizational meetings so that students will spend much or most of their time conveniently close to where their classrooms, workspaces and fellow students will be.
UL President E. Joseph Savoie announced plans for the building in his State of the University address Aug. 17. He noted then that the College of Engineering was a recognized leader in such areas as traditional and emerging renewable energy sources, advanced materials and manufacturing, water management, bioengineering and secure smart systems.
“It will offer a contemporary, student-centered facility that will encourage interactive and interdisciplinary collaborations among students and faculty in the college’s multiple departments, and between the college and business and industry partners,” Savoie said.
The state Legislature recently allocated $15 million for the building. The remainder will be raised through private and public funds and represents part of UL’s $500 million capital campaign.
Planning the building involved input from faculty, administration, students and staff. It included visits to other engineering school facilities, including leading campuses in New England. But the vision itself was formed to fit UL’s College of Engineering needs and ambitions. It won’t mirror buildings at other campuses but will have a thrust toward education in the future.
“We are not copying others; we are building what is best for us,” Khattab said. “We will start where they ended.
“We need the right environment and space. The building had to be designed to foster collaboration, innovation. Students learn when they interact with each other. It’s a different way of interaction. That is what we bring to UL with this building.”
The college has niche and focus areas of study but can shift those according to the needs of industry and the state. In fact, the niche areas of study now are aligned with seven of the eight key industries in Louisiana: advanced manufacturing, aerospace, agribusiness, energy, process industries, software development and water management.
If missions change, Khattab said, “the building will support it.”
Corinne DuPuy, assistant dean, said the facilities will accommodate research for undergraduate and graduate students.
Khattab and DuPuy said the schematic design has been completed and drawings for the building are awaited. The state is working with the contractor and with architects. Groundbreaking could be as early as spring 2023 or as late as the autumn, and construction should take 16 to 18 months.
Email Ken Stickney at [email protected].
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