Newly refurbished lab is completed

September 16, 2013

keene and liu

Andrew Keene, left, and Xiang Liu, both seniors in Mechanical Engineering, were among the first to use the newly refurbished undergraduate lab in Hopeman Hall.

"Like night and day."

That was Andrew Keene's assessment as he worked alongside Xiang Liu, a fellow senior in Mechanical Engineering, in the department's newly refurbished undergraduate lab.

"The old lab was dark and gloomy. This is bright, and shiny, and new," Keene said. "And it makes doing the labs a lot easier."

Thanks to a major overhaul of the Department of Mechanical Engineering's undergraduate lab, students will now be able to spend more time conducting hands-on experiments  and projects.

"The idea is to have up to 11 groups of three students running simultaneous experiments," says Assistant Professor Jonathan Ellis. "Before we could only have one to three groups, depending on the experiment."

That's because the available undergraduate laboratory space had been carved up with temporary partitions to create separate rooms in opposite corners. That left a narrow corridor snaking through the middle with so much equipment stored along it that there was only a four-foot walkway, explained Christine Pratt, Senior Technical Associate.

"It was very cramped," she said.

thompson and yoguelim

Jane Thompson, right, and Rodrigue Yoguelim, both seniors, go over exercise at one of the new work benches.

The renovation, which began in July, knocked down the temporary partitions, creating a single open space. The floor was replaced. New lighting was installed, as well as all-new portable work benches and other equipment.

In addition, drops for compressed air and electricity were installed, which will allow students to wheel experiments in on benches, then wheel them out again, freeing up space for other students to bring in their experiments.

This will ease lab scheduling for students, technical staff and faculty, Ellis noted. "This will also open up more time for open-ended experiments, which is supposed to be the majority of work in the class. Because we've been operating serially, we've had to limit the timeframe for projects. Now that we'll be doing things in a more parallel fashion, I expect the students to be able to tackle greater challenges for the project portion of their courses."

Click here for photos of the refurbishing.


Robert Hudson, senior in Mechanical Engineering, peers at oscilloscope on the first day in MechE's refurbished lab.