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An update on the renovation of Engineering Technology building

Computer from the plastics lab that was left outside all summer and melted.

The Engineering Technology building is in the process of being remodeled, despite several setbacks.

The remodel consists of two phases. Inside the building, there is a distinct line between the finished phase one and where phase two will begin.

Phase one covered the south end of the building on both the first and second floors. Classrooms, labs and the IT department office space were remodeled, a new ventilation system was put in and bright paint was added to lighten the building.

Jacob Cain, interim associate vice president for facilities management, said that planning for phase one started during the COVID-19 pandemic, making phase one take longer than anticipated to complete.

This was one of the hiccups the remodel had. Another was in the engineering labs.

During phase one, engineering professors were asked to move all their equipment to the center of the room and the contractors would work around them.

George Comber, professor of manufacturing engineering technology, works in the plastics lab. Comber moved all the equipment to the center of the room and covered it up.

“During the summer, they took it all outside and put it out there for six months without telling us. It destroyed equipment,” Comber said.

Comber said that plastics were melted and equipment stopped working from sitting in the heat and rain. Thousands of dollars worth of materials were thrown out because they were destroyed.

Comber said that the contractors are helping to replace some of the equipment and materials.

Phase two of the project is in discussion. The biggest hold-up is the decision on how the rest of the space in the building is going to be used. The university wants the space to be used more efficiently.

Cain said that previously each college had their designated classrooms, but now they’re looking to see if they can find a better way to use those classrooms.

“We’re looking at classrooms and labs around campus, seeing how much they are being used and identifying opportunities to improve that,” Cain said.

Cain said they have to account for the growth of more students joining the engineering and technology degrees. However, the pandemic changed their perspective on classroom space and the importance of online learning.

Comber is worried that engineering might lose some of the space they need in this next phase.

Cain said that in these discussions, they are listening to everyone’s concerns and needs for the space. Cain wants to make sure that the space is remodeled in the most efficient way possible so it doesn’t have to be remodeled again or become a waste in money.

“We have most of the money ready to remodel ET, but we don’t want to do something stupid,” Cain said. “We don’t want to waste that money remodeling space and realize what we did doesn’t work for the students or the faculty.”

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