PULLMAN, Wash. — The engineering faculty and students have pulled out all the stops to showcase their new four-story building Friday, April 3, from 10:15 a.m. to 3 p.m. Butch the Cougar, wearing pocket protector and hard hat, will hand out mousepads to the first 100 visitors, and mechanical pencils and refreshments will be offered to all who tour the new Engineering Teaching and Research Laboratory (ETRL).
A 10:15 a.m. ceremony with President Sam Smith and College of Engineering and Architecture Dean Bob Altenkirch will launch the open house and tours, led by the college’s Student Ambassadors. Demonstrations of student projects, faculty research and college centers will fill the main floor. Learn how hazardous waste is neutralized, how virtual manufacturing and rapid prototyping cut time and costs, how animation works, how asteroids are modeled, how distance learning materials are developed, and much more.
Friday’s event marks completion of the building’s two-year construction and three years of planning, design and preparation. The building is primarily dedicated to hands-on learning spaces, soon to be filled with industrial equipment and experimentation tools. The 100,000 gross square-foot building contains 60,000 square feet of customized space for large- and molecular-scale investigations. Move-in is scheduled throughout April and May.
Costs were $27 million — $17 million for construction, $10 million for demolition of the outmoded 1930, 1947-48 mechanical shops, and design and planning. The U.S. Department of Energy funded $8 million, the state $19 million.
Credits for keeping on deadline and budget go to WSU Facilities Planning, Ernie Weiss, project manager; Callison Architects; Riley Engineers; construction contractor Swank Enterprises of Montana; and CEA Dean Robert Altenkirch for fiscal oversight. The steel beam, concrete, and brick building on the 20-foot change-in-elevation hillside on College Avenue sits due west of Dana Hall.
The largest research spaces are the 18- to 20-foot high bays on the ground level in which to operate wind tunnels, towing tanks, vibration testers, forklifts, winch operations and the like. One such space will house the Mechanical Engineering 406 lab, which will be named April 7 in honor of the late Professor Richard Crain, who exemplified learning by doing and hands-on experimentation. An advanced processing lab on the third floor will be named for Orland Harry “O.H.” Reaugh, 1933 chemical engineering alumnus and former vice president of Breck Operating Corporation, who received an Alumni Achievement Award in 1990 for his work as an independent oil producer and contributions to his community and the university. He and his wife, Ruth, have donated $250,000 to help fund state-of-the-art tools and equipment in the lab.
Initially, students and faculty in mechanical, materials, electrical and chemical engineering programs will be able to conduct as many as 100 activities in such areas as bioprocessing, heat transfer, combustion, hydraulics, and materials science. The building is designed for use by as many as 1,000 students and 50 faculty — predominantly teaching and laboratory space, several presentation rooms and graduate student offices.
This year’s Homecoming visitors called the high-ceiling spaces “high-tech, utilitarian, functional and classy.” Particular features include the brick bay near the entrance, which encloses an 80-seat seminar room for multimedia presentations, completely “wired” and “smart” rooms, and green tinted windows to screen out solar radiation. Etched masonry surfaces and a circular paved entry plaza depict engineering concepts such as geometric patterns, waves and rays.
“This — the 10th College of Engineering and Architecture building on the Pullman campus over 105 years — is our launching pad for the new millenium,” said Dean Altenkirch. “We fully expect that within the ETRL over the next decades, as many cutting edge discoveries and innovations in technology will follow in the traditions of Homer Dana, Royal Sloan, Hugh Carpenter or Ray Albrook, for whom our earlier buildings are named.” A formal dedication is expected within the next year.

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