New Engineering Building Expands Options For UAF Students, Faculty

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FAIRBANKS, Alaska - It's been an endeavor: constructing a 120,000 square foot building with inconsistent funds. 115 million dollars later, and it's finally ready to accommodate students and faculty.

Cameron Wohlford; Project manager >> "There's a lot tied into that, and it's not just the construction costs but it's also the furniture, the technology we installed in the building. We want modern technology their working with, modern equipment. We were also afforded the ability to replace a lot of really really old research and teaching equipment through the project. So it's a boon for the student and the faculty here at UAF."

...especially after being stuffed in the old engineering building, waiting for the new space to come.

Abhijit Dandekar; Professor and Chair of Engineering Department >> "The size was about one third the size of this, this lab. So I'm really excited to be here. Now everything is centralized. Okay, everything is here, so I don't have to run to three different labs to you know, or the teaching assistant doesn't have to, run to three different labs to actually talk to the students. So, so that's a great feature."

They're now working in 'smart' lab, which means high tech gadgets, long distant contact, more student engagement and immediate feedback of classroom knowledge.

William Czyzewski; Lab TA >> "The screens, and stuff like that, they're just amazing. Like you can actually network your own computer on to that, and so if the professor is saying I want to see your results or your graph or whatever. And then having to go to each student or whatever, they can just put it on the screen. It's really cool, and you can like easily see like what everyone else has."

Not only will the UAF community benefit from the new features, but Fairbanksans will to.
They've put an open air lab with a reinforced concrete floor that can be used for road and bridge testing and even flying drones.

Cameron >> "You know we've recently used those drones in wildfire detection working with the state of Alaska and borough of land management during fire season and doing search and rescue with those drones out in Gold Stream valley for a young boy. So huge benefits the students get to see when they build these machines then they get to applied science out in the field. And it's all given to us by this, this facility."

This could generate more work in the state for researchers and corporations.

Cameron >> "We see it as huge potential for Alaska and probably the north west of America."

Reporting from the UAF campus, I'm Katie Luper.