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Chemical engineering adds a student lounge

Two of the College of Engineering' "ground crew" student workers, (l-r) sophomores Patrick Sherman, a mechanical engineering major, and Jonathan Batson, majoring in civil engineering, assemble refurbished tables in the Chemical Engineering Department's new student study/lounge area.

An MU College of Engineering renovation project that began with the razing of the high bay portion of Lafferre Hall in early in 2008 is nearing completion, with dedication slated for early November. The reconstruction, which will add upgraded classrooms, labs and student commons, is not the only new student-centric space being added within Mizzou Engineering.

Chemical engineering students arriving on campus in a few short weeks will discover a new student study and work area carved out of existing space in W2012 in the heart of the department’s office area.

“Funds for this project were approved by Dean Thompson, but the project was put on hold when the ‘freeze’ was announced,” said Professor Galen Suppes, referring to the UM System’s funding squeeze announced earlier this year.

The professor, whose research is aimed at environmentally friendly energy solutions, pointed out that Chemical Engineering’s office space in Lafferre Hall’s 1991 addition, did not originally include furnishings. “We had professors who literally used doors as desks when the building first opened, until funds allowed for upgrading office equipment,” he said.

In recent years the faculty and Dean have showed a commitment to simply getting the job done – even if this means the faculty and their families chip in some of their spare time. Suppes is moving forward, doing some of the work himself over the summer, with the help of the student worker “ground crew.” A chemical engineering faculty workday is planned for early August.

An attractive divider was constructed from inexpensive materials and old furniture was rehabilitated – tables were resurfaced with butcher block. When complete, the new student lounge will house ten computer workstations loaded up with the software necessary for the work being done by chemical engineering students.

Designed for group projects, the seating capacity will be around 30, with facilities for lunch and evening snacks.

“It’s not perfect,” Suppes said. “We really could use a little more funding, but it couldn’t wait.”

“Galen puts the students first,” said Marty Walker, director of engineering administrative services, who has lent a hand with the project. “He realizes that a quality work environment is absolutely essential to recruit and retain today’s students.”

“Our students can really benefit from a dedicated place where they can study and network with other chemical engineering students. It’s important,”  Suppes said.



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