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Science & Tech

Engineering Resource Center provides much-needed study space for students

Aiming to meet a critical need for student study space, the College of Engineering has opened a 3,750-square-foot study area combining high technology and old-fashioned peace and quiet. Named for one of the college’s first alumni, the W. Bradford Ingalls Engineering Resource Center debuted as students returned to campus this semester.

Although the need for a student resource center had existed for some time, the space didn’t become available until bioinformatics researchers moved from their 48 Cummington St. quarters earlier this year to the new Life Science and Engineering Building a few doors down. ENG’s vision for the center became reality thanks to a $300,000 gift from Ingalls (ENG’51), which was supplemented by a $150,000 gift from Alan Leventhal, chairman of the Board of Trustees.

Speaking at the center’s dedication on the first day of classes, President Robert A. Brown, himself an engineer, noted that much has changed on the education landscape. “We need to think about engineering in a larger, more complex way than we did 25 years ago,” he said. “When you think about the way information is gathered in that context — through wireless technology and computer technology — the need for spaces like this is paramount in the way we deliver education today.”

“The W. Bradford Ingalls Engineering Resource Center addresses a pressing need for student study space in the College of Engineering,” said David Campbell, ENG dean and University provost. “This state-of-the-art facility will be in many ways an extension of our engineering library.”

The resource center features seven small conference rooms, where groups of four to eight students can gather to work on common projects. It also has a 16-person conference room with a video projector. A spacious common area includes a staffed help desk; students can use five computers to access library resources or take advantage of wireless Internet access through their own laptop computers. A large plasma screen and a large LCD television screen can be used for presentations, with audio available through laptop computers via Bluetooth technology, so other students are not disturbed. The center’s architects used large clear and colored glass panels to draw in natural light and give a high-tech feel to the space.

Matthew Carleton (ENG’09) has used the space to study, to work on lab assignments with classmates, to relax, and to get work done. The key to the design, he says, is the access to technology without the distractions of other student centers or of the dorms, where friends may be in and out or watching TV. Carleton says the location of the resource center, in the middle of ENG’s five buildings and attached to the Engineering Resource Building, allows students to sit down and work on something fresh from class.

“It makes a big difference,” he says. “Without it, I wouldn’t be nearly as productive.”

Rebecca Lipchitz contributed to this report. Photo by Kalman Zabarsky