Story by Lindsey Coleman, Staff writer
As the new Engineering and Physics Building takes shape, Danny Claiborne, chair of the Institute of Engineering, said Murray State is spending about 5 million dollars to outfit the building with the latest technology.
“That’s rare for a university of this size to see a need and see the opportunities that the money could provide,” Claiborne said.
The labs will essentially have all new equipment. He said the university has had large private and corporate donors to make this innovative space a reality, and he said he is confident this is a good investment in students.
Faculty, former students and corporate sponsors were consulted in the equipment ordering process, which Claiborne said will make Murray State a beneficial place for future students in the engineering sector.
“While Murray State is putting an emphasis on experiential learning, we always have, because it’s a critical part of engineering and technology,” Claiborne said.
Several new features will be added to Murray State’s campus, such as a standards and measurements lab, a senior design lab, a separate fluid mechanics lab, a rapid prototype center and a separate astronomy lab.
“The lab spaces are going to be remarkable,” Claiborne said.
Claiborne said the new rapid prototype center will allow students to take product through 3D printing and manufacturing to not only conceptualize ideas but also see them through and build what they’ve designed.
Jason Youngblood, assistant director of Facilities Design and Construction, said the building will be a great addition to campus, and it should be something students can be proud of.
“From my standpoint, the biggest difference as far as the way the building is constructed is it’s set up very friendly for students and visitors that come into the building,” Youngblood said.
He said engineering graphics and design, telecommunications systems management and engineering technology will remain in the engineering building, while the engineering and physics programs currently in Blackburn Science Building will move to the new Engineering and Physics Building.
The space in the basement and first floor of Blackburn Science Building that is now occupied by the engineering department will be reallocated after the Engineering and Physics Building opens and the programs move.
Although Youngblood said they are still trying to determine what is best suited to go into Blackburn, he said they would like to utilize the basement for a good purpose and do minimal renovations to the first floor if possible. Renovations would possibly start Fall 2017.
“I think the overall goal is campus expansion,” Youngblood said. “We’re expanding the footprint of the university.”
Steve Cobb, dean of the Jesse D. Jones College of Science, Engineering and Technology, said class opportunities will be expanded in civil engineering, manufacturing, electromechanical engineering technologies, aerospace, telecommunications and alternative energy solutions.
Cobb said he wants students to come out of this well-prepared, so that when they graduate, they can go directly into jobs in industry.
“We hope that we will be more attractive to underrepresented groups in engineering. That includes minority populations, but it also includes women,” Cobb said. “There are not enough women in engineering. That means we’re missing half the good ideas that exist in the world today.”
The ribbon cutting for the Engineering and Physics Building will be held April 21, and the Gary Boggess Science Resource Center and Timothy Jones Gateway will be named and dedicated within the new building.