Lack of space will no longer be issue for engineering majors

Kara Gutormson

Kara Gutormson

By next year, the electrical engineering and computer science departments will have a new building to call their own.

The new facility, called Harding Hall South, will encompass three departments: electrical engineering, software engineering and computer science. The new building has been taking shape since its groundbreaking in July 2007 and is expected to be complete February 2009.

Dennis Helder, head of the electrical engineering department, said he is looking forward to the day when he can give tours of the state-of-the-art facility to prospective students. Harding Hall South will feature laboratories and classrooms as well as new offices to accommodate faculty.

Lack of space is the main reason that the electrical and software engineering departments currently occupy four different buildings on campus: Harding, Crothers, Solberg and the administration building. Helder said another issue is that, “Harding has no electrical capacity for an air conditioning system. Without proper ventilation, computer labs can’t be kept cool. That’s the reason that the computer science department is scattered around several departments.”

According to Professor Steven Hietpas, “Harding Hall was originally a student dormitory, and the spaces are not designed to be used for electronics laboratories.”

Aric Lowe, a junior electrical engineering major, agreed that a newer facility is long overdue. “The environment feels primitive, we don’t have a good place to work,” he said.

Kelly Behnken, a sophomore electrical engineering major, said she is tired of the current restrooms in Harding Hall. “Being that it used to be a men’s dorm, there are only two women’s restrooms in the entire building. The one upstairs is a joke; it has four sinks, one toilet and a filthy couch.”

Dean of Engineering Lewis Brown pointed out that the current building reflects a poor image to the public. “The current facility presents visiting students and parents with a grim reality: SDSU’s ‘high tech’ programs are using out-of-date facilities. This makes it difficult to recruit the best students for our program.”

Harding Hall South will consist of four floors. The first level includes various state-of-the-art laboratories such as an electrochemistry lab, a characterization lab and a nanoelectronics clean room lab.

The second floor will house the software engineering and computer science department. It will have classrooms, general purpose computer labs, an isolated networks lab and a senior design lab.

The third floor will be home to the electrical engineering department. It will contain classrooms, labs, offices, student study rooms and a large faculty conference room.

The fourth floor will be an interface between the university and industry, where business entities can work with faculty and students at SDSU to bring their ideas and concepts to reality. “There may be numerous opportunities for undergraduate and graduate level research within the industry,” Helder said.

Another interesting development within the engineering department is the new Ph.D. program. David Galipeau, the graduate program coordinator, said the Ph.D. program at SDSU is focused on alternative energies and photovoltaics.

“Research in the area of photovoltaics is crucial for humanity,” said Galipeau. “Students in the graduate department are working on various research projects, and the new labs provided by the new facilities will help them in that area.”

He also mentioned the department owns a scanning electron microscope (SEM), as well as an atomic force microscope (AFM). The AFM can magnify images to show them at the molecular level. The new Ph.D. program in electrical engineering at SDSU has set the program apart from all others in the state and region.

“When you think of a profession that has changed our lifestyles in the way that engineering has, you’d like to think that the people creating these high-tech products should be working in the appropriate environment,” Helder said.

The College of Engineering partnered with the SDSU Foundation to gather funds for the project. Tim Reed, the engineering development director at the SDSU Foundation, said that the building would not have been built had it not been for the generosity of SDSU alumni and corporate sponsors. Fundraising for the building is ongoing, as the project still needs an additional $2 million. To make a donation or find out more about the project, contact Reed at the SDSU foundation.

#1.882802:997242082.jpg:harding_hall_SF.jpg:The structure currently known as “Harding Hall South” will house the electrical engineering department. The building sits on the south edge of campus on 8th Street.:Stephanie Fischer