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New CSU engineering building to emphasize high-tech teamwork

Rendering of the new CSU engineering building

Enrollment at Cleveland State University's engineering school has doubled over the last five years, making the program's planned $46.2 million new building a necessity. The facility, which is scheduled to open in 2017, will offer spacious, high-tech work areas to accommodate the recent influx of students, school officials say.
 
Though the proposed 100,000 square-foot facility is about 10,000 square feet smaller than the engineering college's current location at Fenn Hall, its open floor plan will better meet the demands of an academic environment where collaboration is key, says Anette Karlsson, dean of the Washkewicz College of Engineering at CSU.
 
Fenn Hall will remain, while the new building will be erected nearby along Chester Avenue just west of East 24th Street. Architects for the project include Harley Ellis Devereaux and Cleveland firm CBLH Design Cleveland-based Knight & Stolar is on board as the venture's civil engineer. 
 
Unlike the closed-off, column-filled classrooms at Fenn, the facility will have a 6,000-square-foot "makerspace" boasting a variety of machine-shop gear as well as 3D printers, laser cutters and other tools.
 
"It's one big area that will be divided into compartments," says Karlsson. "We're very excited about getting students a space that will give them the hands-on experience they need."
 
New engineering majors, meanwhile, will interact and create in a specially designated design area for freshman.
 
"It's more of a prototyping room where they can build light materials like plastics and paper," says Karlsson. "The idea is to teach the concept of design."
 
Other building plans include a hydraulics lab and classrooms. The larger design spaces will be separated by glass walls, which will let in natural light and further emphasize a sense of DIY ambiance. The new facility's interactive trappings were inspired by, among other projects, the Sears think[box] innovation center at Case Western Reserve University.
 
"We want the space to be open because were doing all these fun things," Karlsson says. "We want to show off what we're doing."
 
Ideally, students from all majors will use the facility to collaborate and build whatever their imaginations conjure.
 
"The first thing an employer asks about is a graduate's interpersonal and communication skills," says Karlsson. "Those (skills) are what students can learn by working in groups." 

Read more articles by Douglas J. Guth.

Douglas J. Guth is a Cleveland Heights-based freelance writer and journalist. In addition to Fresh Water, his work has been published by Midwest Energy News, Kaleidoscope Magazine and Think, the alumni publication of Case Western Reserve University. A die-hard Cleveland sports fan, he also writes for the cynically named (yet humorously written) blog Cleveland Sports Torture.   
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