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March 20, 2014

Engineering Building Features State-of-the-Art Labs, Collaborative Space

feature1-lgThe lobby of the soon-to-be-complete Engineering Systems Building
By Brendan O'Hallarn

Old Dominion's Engineering Systems Building, which will be the nerve center for engineering research and study on campus when it opens later this year, is rapidly approaching completion.

Construction crews have been working on the site between Kaufman Hall and Perry Library for more than a year. The state-of-the-art, 51,000-square-foot building will soon house a modern clean room, biomedical engineering labs, a lasers lab, a plasma science lab and a dynamic simulation lab, among other assets.

But besides its being among the most modern on-campus engineering facilities in the state, Oktay Baysal, dean of the Frank Batten College of Engineering and Technology, said the physical space will help shift the paradigm of engineering instruction on the ODU campus.

"Our goal with the building was to create as much open collaborative space as we could," Baysal said. "Researchers can come out of their offices and meet with their peers informally, to brainstorm, much like Google's 'Skunkworks.' Classrooms that will provide modern labs during the day will be transformed in the evening so students can work on projects."

In addition to being technologically advanced, the building is designed with efficiencies in mind. The laboratories in the two-story structure are equipped with sliding doors to facilitate the movement of large engineering equipment in and out of the building, such as the "Six Degrees of Freedom Machine" developed by Gene Hou, professor of mechanical engineering, to simulate wave action.

Another important function the Engineering Systems Building will serve is to pull together engineering labs from across campus into a single location. Khan Iftekharuddin, director of the ODU Vision Lab, will move his groundbreaking study of machine vision and computational intelligence into the new building.

Mounir Laroussi, professor of electrical engineering, will bring his Plasma Engineering and Medicine Institute into the new building, continuing to explore innovative applications for plasma technology, such as killing cancer cells.

ODU's engineering management and systems engineering department - the university created one of the first programs of its kind in the country and is ranked in the top 10 nationally - will be housed in the Engineering Systems Building. A modern collaborative environment has been designed for the department to encourage more exchanges of ideas.

A grand opening for the Engineering Systems Building is planned for this summer. Baysal said the new facility will continue to build on the good works of ODU engineering over the past 50 years.

"We are proud of our breakthroughs in biomedical engineering and modeling and simulation, our grant-funded research by faculty in every engineering discipline. This helps us continue our efforts to be a world-class engineering college, connecting knowledge, practice and research," Baysal said.

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