Amy Xiong

Unveiled this semester, the Linda and Glenn H. Greenberg Engineering Teaching Concourse is bringing together the various departments of Yale’s School of Engineering & Applied Science in one centralized space.

Located underneath Becton Plaza, the Teaching Concourse boasts around 10,000 square feet of undergraduate teaching lab space — eight labs in total, including two wet labs with ventilation hoods and tissue culture rooms. This semester, eight undergraduate SEAS courses are using the new concourse, spanning the Electrical Engineering, Biomedical Engineering and Chemical & Environmental Engineering Departments. A $10 million donation from Glenn Greenberg ’68 funded the space.

“The Greenberg Engineering Teaching Concourse has and will continue to transform the SEAS undergraduate education,” said Desirée Plata, a SEAS professor who teaches an environmental engineering lab course in the space this semester. “Yale is now able to provide more of the real engineering experience, and, in doing so, create more engaging course content that produces more capable engineers.”

Officially dedicated on Sept. 15, the Teaching Concourse geographically links the Becton Engineering and Applied Science Center, Dunham Laboratory, Arthur K. Watson Hall and Tsai Center for Innovative Thinking at Yale via a long, glass-walled corridor with lab space on either side. Previously a location for an indoor loading dock, a data processing facility and old electrical and mechanical engineering spaces, the concourse now provides access to state-of-the-art, research-level instrumentation and ventilation hoods for undergraduate coursework and research.

By centralizing engineering labs into one space, the Teaching Concourse — conceived of by SEAS Dean T. Kyle Vanderlick — encourages collaboration between students and faculty across all disciplines within engineering, according to SEAS Deputy Dean Vincent Wilczynski.

“What this space affords is for students in all of the engineering majors to work in a common location, so that when you’re walking down the hallway, you can see what chemical, environmental, mechanical, electrical and biomedical engineering looks like,” Wilczynski said, explaining that the transparency of the full-glass doors gives students insight into the coursework and research of their classmates and engineers in other programs.

The facilities are available not only for academic courses, Wilczynski said, but also for research collaborations with faculty or within students’ extracurricular activities.

SEAS professor Tarek Fahmy, who expects to teach his course “Biomedical Engineering Laboratory” in the space next semester, said that the concourse — which is central to both SEAS and the larger undergraduate campus — also provides engineering students with a stronger sense of connection to the Yale community.

Fahmy noted that in previous years, students in his BENG 356L course would be forced to work in different parts of campus for the various engineering needs of the class — including in his own research lab and at the School of Medicine.

“The class is interdisciplinary, and students need facilities equipped with all the elements of engineering to execute all of those things,” Fahmy said. “Running around campus to use these facilities was confusing and discombobulating, but that’s no longer the case now.”

The investment in the space demonstrates the University’s focused efforts to enhance undergraduate SEAS education, according to SEAS research support specialist Erik Tharp, who manages equipment and assists with courses taught in the Teaching Concourse.

Previously, there were few dedicated teaching spaces for the entirety of SEAS — especially for the Chemical & Environmental Engineering and Biomedical Engineering Departments, he said, adding that the bright environment in the new space represents marked departure from the dark and outdated lab space that existed there before construction of the concourse began in 2016.

Electrical engineering and computer science major Elizabeth Brooks ’20 said that she is looking forward to working in the new space, which she sees as a significant improvement from the facilities used by her courses last year.

“This facility was created for the sole purpose of improving the undergraduate education experience for Yale engineers,” Wilczynski said. “That is, without a doubt, aligned with the University’s priorities.”

Tharp noted that the initiative builds upon the creation of the Yale Center for Engineering Innovation and Design five years ago, which he said marked Yale’s initial commitment to provide more engineering workspace. This space now offers more teaching space for SEAS in addition to centralizing Yale’s engineering program, he added.

Bohan Lou ’20, a student in “Introduction to Electronics,” a course being taught in the space this semester, said that the new labs are an important addition to the engineering school, allowing students to apply concepts learned in class in practical lab experiences.

Plata, whose “Environmental Engineering Practice” course this semester meets in the Teaching Concourse, also said that the new lab space will provide the physical space and equipment necessary to prepare her students to enter the workforce or research field. Previously, environmental engineering courses had limited opportunities to offer hands-on teaching labs, since SEAS lacked the space to store equipment, safely use chemicals and convene students.

“I find that students are most stimulated and most creative when they get to actively engage or construct something,” Plata said. “Yale Engineering is now able to provide that experience for every engineering student that enters our program, which was not true before the Greenberg Engineering Teaching Concourse was available.”

Approximately 175 undergraduates graduate each year with a major in a discipline within engineering, according to the SEAS website.

Amy Xiong | amy.xiong@yale.edu