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New building gets started, goes green

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Posted: Tuesday, March 13, 2007 9:00 pm

The School of Engineering and Applied Science will be expanding both its curriculum and physical presence when construction of a building devoted to the applied sciences begins this month.

The PACCAR Center for applied science, scheduled to be completed before fall 2008, will be built directly south of and just across the road from the Herak Center for Engineering and, with an area of 25,000 square feet, will be roughly the same size as the Crosby Student Center.

"This new engineering facility will enable us to provide our students with invaluable laboratory experience in cutting-edge fields using the latest technology," said Dennis Horn, dean of the School of Engineering and Applied Science, in a Gonzaga press release.

Two new programs, a certificate in power transmission and distribution, and graduate level courses in computational sciences, will be integral parts of the program.

The integrated power transmission and distribution program, upon its expected approval by the Academic Council, will be unique to Gonzaga among American universities and further its strategic plan to increase specialization options for students.

The program has found considerable support from the U.S. Department of Energy, as 20 to 50 percent of those currently trained in power management are expected to retire in the next five to 15 years. This is especially important in the face of recent high-profile electrical outages and an anticipated 50 percent increase in power demands in the United States over the next 25 years.

Courses in transmission and distribution will be available online at a national level this fall and will be taught by a combination of industry experts and current faculty.

With the transmission and distribution program has also come an emphasis on green design, construction and maintenance of the PACCAR addition.

"If we're going to practice what we preach, we need to integrate these principles into design and construction," Horn said with respect to the silver Leadership in Green Building Council awarded to PACCAR. This rating is meant to indicate the building's environmental impact in construction and sustainability in its management practices. The center is precedent-setting in that it is the first building on campus to receive such a rating.

Elements of green design include window placement on the south-facing side intended to take full advantage of natural light and its heating properties, and reduced parking behind Herak in favor of an east-west pedestrian pavilion. The McCarthey Athletic Center's parking lot is expected to absorb the displaced vehicles and thus reduce automobile noise on campus.

The second floor of PACCAR will contain an administrative suite and be physically linked by a glass-enclosed skybridge to the faculty offices on the second level of Herak. PACCAR's first floor will include four classrooms and two laboratories. Room for an additional four classrooms is available in the "daylight basement," but their construction will be dependent upon continuing and future donations.

The fundraising goal for this project is $8 million. Of the roughly $5 million collected, $960,000 has come from the federal government, $2.1 million from corporate donors, $750,000 from foundation donors and nearly $1.6 million from individual donors. Another $935,000 is expected from pending donors and the federal government. The remaining $2 million is expected to arrive through program revenues over the next 10 years.

Hoffman Contractors Inc., the Spokane company which built the Jepson Center, its recent addition and the Rudolf Fitness Center, won the low bid to erect PACCAR.

U.S. News & World Report ranked the School of Engineering and Applied Science No. 20 among best undergraduate engineering programs in the nation among engineering schools without a doctoral program last year.

As of last fall, 458 students, 137 of whom were freshmen, were enrolled full time in the School of Engineering and Applied Science.

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