Fairfield University's School of Engineering moves closer to nursing, sciences


Image: SOEFairfield University's centrally located Bannow Science Center - a building filled with multiple, fully equipped laboratories and light-filled, open, contemporary spaces - is the new home of the School of Engineering. The School's move from McAuliffe Hall, one of the original structures on campus, has been a gradual one this academic year, and now puts its faculty and students closer to the classrooms of the College of Arts & Sciences and the School of Nursing.

Moving the School of Engineering to the Rudolph F. Bannow Science Center has a number of benefits, said Bruce Berdanier, Ph.D., dean of the School of Engineering, including  "wide open spaces that are inviting to students, and laboratory space that was designed for that purpose, making it beneficial for both students and professors." Locating the School within the same building as math and physical sciences classes, and next door to the School of Nursing, opens up a range of possibilities for easy collaboration and cross-disciplinary projects, he added.

All six engineering laboratories contain state-of-the-art computer hardware. They were brimming with activity on a recent morning. For instance, students in the Mechanical Laboratory were running System Dynamics experiments and plans called for other undergraduates to do Thermofluid experiments in the afternoon. Meanwhile, students were in the Computer Science Laboratory studying software design.

The new Machine Laboratory contains a new milling machine and numerical control lathe for students to machine three-dimensional parts, skills instrumental in the education of the next generation of engineers. They were procured by a grant from the Brinkman Family Foundation. "Ellie Hawthorne, of the Brinkman Family Foundation, recognizes the importance of knowledge in machining and fabrication for successful engineers entering the workplace" said Shahrokh Etemad, Ph.D., chairman and associate professor of mechanical engineering.

David Frassinelli, associate vice president of facilities management, said work done in Bannow to make room for the School of Engineering included making a new dean's suite out of two classrooms; transforming a large, little used room into the Machine Laboratory; and the merging of numerous classrooms to make laboratory spaces, such as the Mechanical Laboratory which boasts such equipment as a wind tunnel and Instron material testing equipment.

Frassinelli said that the longer-term perspective is for Bannow to become the science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) center of the university, and a growing place to study the health sciences. "We're not done yet," he said.

Although all engineering classes are being conducted in Bannow, the School of Engineering will maintain some space on the first floor of McAuliffe Hall for the near future. "We'll need some area for a microelectronics lab and automated manufacturing," says Dr. Berdanier, adding that senior student design teams will continue to use McAuliffe throughout the year to work on their projects.  Proposals for the future use of the building are still under discussion.

Photos are of the Mechanical Laboratory, Machine Laboratory, and Computer Science Laboratory at Fairfield University's School of Engineering.

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Media Contact: Meg McCaffrey, (203) 254-4000, ext. 2726, mmccaffrey@fairfield.edu

Posted on April 4, 2014

Vol. 46, No. 256