The UC Berkeley College of Engineering presented designs for a planned building to be built next to Soda Hall at a community open house Thursday.
The building, called Jacobs Hall, is set for completion in fall 2015 and is part of a plan to make the campus’s engineering program focus more on design and hands-on experience. The 24,000-square-foot building will hold a series of studios, workshops and spaces where students can work on design projects in a team environment. The $20 million project is funded by the Paul and Stacy Jacobs Foundation.
The College of Engineering will use the building’s facilities for research projects embedded in new classes and will hold a space for students from different departments to work together on projects. The building will also support the college’s new minor in design innovation — available for all majors — and an expansion of Engineering 10, Introduction to Design and Analysis, that is currently being considered.
According to Karen Rhodes, executive director of communications at the College of Engineering, there has been a growth in demand and interest from students for hands-on engineering experience.
“(The institute) is an effort to rethink and reshape engineering education, particularly at the undergraduate level, with more of a focus on design,” Rhodes said. “We’re seeing a real interest in employers to see engineering BAs who have experience on hands-on experience.”
The institute is also a response to an increasing emphasis on manufacturing by federal lawmakers and the growing popularity and decreasing costs of 3-D printing.
“You have this big push by the Obama administration to try to elevate the role of manufacturing to create jobs,” said David Dornfeld, chair of the campus department of mechanical engineering department. “The development of 3-D printing has also allowed everyone to become a designer and manufacturer.”
The institute may also be open for high school students during the summer to better expose them to science, technology, engineering and math.
For Bryant Luong, director of Pioneers in Engineering, a campus student group that aims to make those fields more accessible to high school students, an intended partnership with the Jacobs Institute represents an exciting opportunity to improve the quality and effectiveness of their efforts.
Construction will start in spring of next year, and classes are planned to begin in fall 2015 — an ambitious schedule, according to architects from Leddy Maytum Stacy Architects, the firm that is working on the construction.
Shankar Sastry, dean of the College of Engineering, said the institute’s hands-on program is important because it allows all students to actually manifest their ideas into real products.
“We can’t send our students into the world thinking they can think lofty thoughts and have someone else manufacture those ideas,” Sastry said. “The two go hand in hand.”