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Tech engineering building opens

Sunday, December 8, 2019
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Leader photos by CALEB DANIEL
            Classes were held at Louisiana Tech University’s Integrated Engineering and Science Building for the first time Wednesday.

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Pictured is a look at part of the building’s open, central atrium.

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Pictured is one of several chemistry labs on the new Louisiana Tech Engineering Building’s third floor.

Louisiana Tech University’s new Integrated Engineering and Science Building opened its doors for classes this past week, and students who walked through those doors quickly saw that Tech’s largest academic structure is not just another classroom building.

“When people see the facility, it’s obvious there’s nothing else like it on campus,” College of Engineering and Science Dean Hisham Hegab said.

The 130,000-square-foot, three-story building, which saw classes begin Wednesday, contains enough classrooms, research labs, hands-on learning spaces and faculty offices to accommodate virtually all first- and secondyear student programming in every major in the engineering college. All these facilities are built around a vast, open atrium and winding, open-air staircase that connect to each area of the building.

Hegab said the IESB was designed to bring together the geographically scattered engineering college and act as hub to deliver many parts of its curricula and student experience in one place.

“The college has had a strong focus on hands-on, project-based curricula, and we were able to design this building from the ground up to facilitate that,” he said. “Our faculty had a lot of input into how arrangements were made.”

Located east of Tech Pointe and spanning from Dan Reneau Drive to Texas Avenue, the IESB was built to relieve crowding strain in the engineering campus as attendance has grown.

It will also consolidate numerous COES events, such as the senior design expo, that previously spanned numerous facilities across campus.

“Combine all that with some of the new housing that’s come up recently, and the fact that we have Bogard, Nethken and Carson-Taylor halls as our nearby academic buildings, and (the IESB) creates a kind of synergy of all this space for us,” Hegab said.”

The structure was a result of Tech’s internal fundraising and state of Louisiana capital outlay funds. Gov. John Bel Edwards visited the site multiple times throughout construction, including an October 2018 trip to sign one of the building’s steel beams.

Though classes have begun, construction continues, mainly on the building’s exterior. An additional “green space” to the rear of the existing facility to accommodate campus events is also planned.

“So far it’s gone well,” Hegab said. “We’re discovering little punch list items that need to be done, but no major snafus so far. Everyone is super excited — both faculty and students. It’s been a long time coming.”

Several faculty members, including mathematics and statistics lecturer Stacey McAdams, highlighted the IESB’s open and accessible design as an important means of encouraging student interaction.

“We have so many conference rooms that are unlocked for student use,” McAdams said. “This building is going to add a lot of collaboration between students, because we have so many spaces that are just for them. You don’t have to go to Wyly Tower or a basement or someone’s house — it’s all right here.”

She said the structure also lends to an improved degree of literal and figurative transparency.

“All the windows allow people to see what our curriculum is like,” McAdams said. “You can see into the engineering labs, the physics labs, the math lectures, everything. We have really good technology here, and it’s goingtogetevenbetter.”

Chemistry lecturer Philip McMullan said the building will encourage more collaboration between students and between students and faculty.

“All the conference rooms and study spaces here on the third floor have already been populated more than I thought they would be,” he said. “I think student interaction is very important, and the open structure of this building will be inviting to students and encourage them to interact more with their professors and their peers.”

The IESB’s opening comes on the heels of Tech and Gov. Edwards’ announcement of another partnership: the construction of entrepreneurship building Tech Pointe II just across the road from the engineering building.

“I think it makes a strong statement of where we’re headed,” Hegab said. “We’ve had a long history of being known for producing graduates that really jump in and have handson skills, but I think this helps continue that legacy forward.”