University News

Growing School of Engineering expands to newly renovated building

Program’s growth will not dilute its quality, says Tom Powers, director of grad programs at the school

By
Senior Staff Writer
Wednesday, January 23, 2013

The School of Engineering will expand the size of its faculty and student body following the completion of the new Building for Environmental Research and Teaching, which will take place in late 2013.

President Christina Paxson has called the growth of the school — which was established in 2010 — a major priority of her administration. The school’s biomedical and environmental engineering research programs will occupy the third floor of the building, formerly Hunter Laboratory, said Lawrence Larson, dean of engineering.

The floor contains five laboratories, which could potentially allow five separate faculty members to conduct research there, said Associate Provost Rod Beresford. Eight offices along the east and south walls will be allotted to faculty members and graduate students, Beresford said. Some space in the center of the floor can serve as a dry lab and common space, he added.

Four to five new faculty members will join the engineering faculty to work with graduate students in the labs once the renovations are complete, Larson said. The school’s faculty is currently interviewing candidates, Larson said. “Hopefully we will have settled on several great candidates by March or April,” Larson added.

Meanwhile, the school will likely increase the number of graduate students it admits by about two, said Tom Powers, director of graduate programs at the School of Engineering. With the addition of new faculty members, the number of graduate students can expand proportionally, Powers added.

The program’s current size of about 20 students per year allows for close collaboration between faculty and students, Powers said. He added that growing the program would benefit the school’s placement in national rankings.

“Many rankings are based on absolute numbers. Because we’re small, it’s often hard for us to compete in those measures,” he said.

The school’s graduate program was recently named the second-best engineering program in the country by graduateprograms.com.

Following the completion of the ongoing renovation, faculty members and graduate students in the School of Engineering will share the building with the geology departments and the environmental change initiative, Beresford said.

“Brown has a really broad and strong environmental science and policy program, and in engineering we have close ties to those groups,” Larson said. He said he hopes that sharing a building in the Building for Environmental Research and Teaching will create “good opportunities for collaboration.”

“There’s a lot of interest in having a curriculum that includes environmental engineering,” said Kenneth Breuer, associate dean for academic programs for the School of Engineering. The school is in the early stages of examining ways to expand in this area, as well as continuing to foster interactive experiences for the students, Breuer said.

Due to an editing error, a previous version of this article incorrectly stated the Building for Environmental Research and Teaching would open Jan. 23. In fact, a topping-off ceremony will take place Jan. 23 and the construction will be completed in October. The Herald regrets the error.

Due to an editing error, a previous version of this article’s summary deck attributed a statement about the School of Engineering’s growth to Associate Provost Rod Beresford. In fact, the statement was made by Tom Powers, director of graduate programs at the school. The Herald regrets the error.