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When the original Scaife Hall opened in 1962, it was transformational. The department expanded its educational focus from undergraduates to graduate students and research. The labs, office space, and computer system in Scaife elevated the department and also the university.

Since 1962, Mechanical Engineering (MechE) has evolved significantly, and the old Scaife Hall doesn’t support the types of research that are required to solve today’s problems. For example, there are MechE engineering faculty merging biology and mechanical design to create bio-hybrid robots. This research, which combines diverse expertise and skills ranging from tissue culture to 3Dprinting, requires unique lab spaces. It is very difficult to do this type of research in Scaife Hall now.

The original classrooms, outgrown by MechE’s student population, lack the types of work spaces needed for today’s curriculum. The new building will house reimagined, modern, active learning classrooms with reconfigurable tables. By doubling the square footage of space per student, the new classrooms will increase the opportunities for hands-on learning experiences like team projects and instructor/student interactions.

“We are proud of our Advanced Collaboration® in the college and the university, and a new Scaife Hall will allow us to take that collaboration to another level. It will bring together our faculty, staff, and students in exciting new ways that the old building doesn’t,” says Allen Robinson, head of mechanical engineering.

“New Scaife is designed to actively promote interactions because this is when exciting advancements occur. They often start with informal interactions at a whiteboard next to a water cooler, and the new Scaife will accelerate that trend,” says Robinson.

The research that will happen in the new Scaife Hall will transform regional economic development, too. Our work will generate new ideas, the solutions, and the products that can lead to the next 1,000- or 10,000-person company. Every year, entrepreneurial MechE students and faculty establish new start-ups.

“You never know when one of those is going to take off,” says Robinson. “That’s why it is really important that we keep planting those little seed kernels to develop the Pittsburgh economy for the 21st century.”

Scaife drawing

Source: College of Engineering