(Logo courtesy of UM-Dearborn)

By MARIA KANSO, Staff Writer

The state of Michigan recently allocated $30 million to the University of Michigan-Dearborn for constructing a new Engineering Lab Building.

“It cannot teach all modern engineering,” said Tony England, the Dean of the College of Engineering and Computer Science at UM-Dearborn, about the current ELB. “It simply doesn’t have the infrastructure to do it and it can’t teach modern pedagogy.”

The main purpose of the new building is to cope with both advancing technologies and the way engineering is be taught today. According to England, the standards upon which the building would be shaped are based on Engineer of 2020: Visions of Engineering in the New Century, a publication released by the National Academy of Engineering.  

One of the initiatives of the building is emphasizing on experiential learning through modern labs and modern engineering content. Another is reaching out to regional K-12 systems by bringing school students on campus and introducing them to UM-Dearborn’s modern engineering structure. In order to keep faculty current with research, department-specific PhD programs will be created.

The current Engineering Lab Building was constructed in the 1950s and has never been renovated, which fostered a need for new labs and spaces for engineering students to learn the science of engineering through hands-on experiences.

“It emphasizes both teamwork and the ability of students to teach each other,” said England about the project. “It was very important that we move forward quickly or we would build a reputation of not teaching modern engineering.”

There are 1691 undergraduate students, 1082 graduate students, and 75 faculty members in the College of Engineering and Computer Science.

The new ELB will include spaces designed for teamwork and class projects, with adaptable teaching labs and classrooms. It will allow for the growth of undergraduate students by 50 percent, graduate students by 30 percent, and faculty members by 30 percent. Also, the offerings of electric power and powertrain engineering, sustainable engineering, and design will be expanded.

SmithGroup, one of the country’s largest architectural firms, was hired three years ago to carry out the building’s conceptual designs, and the project will be presented to the regents in September.