Plans for new engineering center emerge

The building at 17 Hillhouse Ave. will become a new facility for the School of Engineering & Applied Science.
The building at 17 Hillhouse Ave. will become a new facility for the School of Engineering & Applied Science. Photo by Sharon Yin.

Administrators are moving forward with plans to open a new engineering facility next fall at the site of the former Yale University Health Services building at 17 Hillhouse Ave.

The new space will be designed to facilitate teaching and research in electrical engineering, mechanical engineering and materials science. School of Engineering and Applied Science Deputy Dean Vincent Wilczynski said the $19 million project will help accommodate an expanding faculty and provide students with more work space.

“The facility will put faculty with similar research interests in physical proximity, [which] will promote collaboration and interdisciplinary research,” Wilczynski said. “Its work areas and open classrooms will also draw individual students and groups.”

The first floor and basement will house teaching facilities and academic support offices, and the second and third floors will include laboratories, offices and conference rooms for 12 professors and their research teams.

The new offices will be filled both by new faculty and professors currently working in other buildings, though Wilczynski said it has not been determined who will move to the renovated building. He said some recipients of the 10 Malone professorships — newly created faculty positions funded by John Malone ’63 for which Wilczynski said searches are “well underway” — will have offices at 17 Hillhouse Ave., and some current Yale faculty expressed interest in moving to the renovated building when the plan was presented at a Feb. 29 faculty meeting.

Mary Mu ENG ’17, who studies microelectronics, said she hopes Yale will hire professors with more diverse research backgrounds. She added that few professors conduct research in her specialty, giving her little opportunity to explore different types of research in her first year.

Zurez Khan ’12, an electrical engineering major, said he thinks the renovations will help replace outdated equipment and accommodate the increase in engineering majors in recent years that has resulted in more crowded labs.

The building will include six classrooms, including a 50-seat classroom outfitted with computers and a large “technology-enhanced” classroom, all of which will be available for individual and group study spaces when they are not being used for classes.

The facility will also offer the library services previously available at the Engineering and Applied Science Library, which temporarily moved from Becton Center to Dunham Laboratory last winter to make way for the new Center for Engineering Innovation & Design, University Librarian Susan Gibbons said. She added that an engineering librarian, a science data librarian and an ITS engineering research services manager will be available to provide consultative services to SEAS students and faculty.

University President Richard Levin said the fourth and fifth floors of the building will not be renovated because he said the four lower floors will meet the engineering school’s current needs and because of budgetary constraints.

“Should they need more space in the next three years, we’ll see if the funds are available.” Levin said. “We’re operating in a tight budget environment, so it seemed unnecessary to renovate more space than we’d need in the near term.”

Deputy Provost for Academic Resources Lloyd Suttle said that the project was a high priority among projects in the 2013 fiscal year capital budget.

The project comes as the University is also renovating several other of its science and engineering spaces, including Kline Chemistry Laboratory and the Center for Engineering Innovation & Design.

“This project is similar in scope to the renovation of other offices, laboratories and teaching spaces in the sciences and social sciences,” Suttle said.

Yale University Health Services was founded in 1971 as the Department of University Health, moving to the current health center at 55 Lock St. in fall 2010.

Comments

  • Sara

    Good news for New Haven’s economy.