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To follow the construction
process of the new
Stinson-Remick Hall
of Engineering,
click here.

The fences are up!

You know they are serious about building you a building when the fences go up. And they are indeed up, extending south from the new Law School building, which is already under construction, to well past the site of our new Stinson-Remick Hall of Engineering. The fences occupy much of the DeBartolo Quad; in fact, to get to most of the buildings lining Notre Dame Avenue, one first has to go north from Cushing and Fitzpatrick halls.

Along with the rising fences, our plans and our hopes are also going up, with strategies for building the college of the future through thoughtfully articulated plans to exploit the new opportunities that come with expansion. In my last “Signatures” letter, I described the facilities planned for Stinson-Remick: the expanded, centrally located McCourtney Learning Center, the Center for Nano Science and Technology with a state-of-the-art clean room for device fabrication, our newly emerging Energy Center, an extensive high-tech materials center, and a 50 kW solar panel system on the roof with monitors in the learning center describing its use. Another gain derived from a new building is the opportunity to expand and modernize those labs that remain in Fitzpatrick and Cushing. When Stinson-Remick Hall is complete, we will have six (count them—six) engineering buildings, including the Multidisciplinary Engineering Research Building on the north end of the campus, focusing on orthopaedics research, the world-class Hessert Laboratories for aerospace engineering, and the newest “White Field” building with expanded aerospace facilities.

I believe that there is no better time to be an engineer. For engineers do more than simply study the world as it is given to them; they solve the problems associated with that world, with far more sophisticated tools than have ever been available. Engineers work at all dimensions (from the mega to the macro to the micro to the nano) and apply the knowledge of physics, chemistry, and biology to the many problems that beset mankind. They not only build bridges, but they also study the materials from which bridges are made at the microscopic level, to design ways to keep them structurally sound. Engineers build skyscrapers, and they simulate their behavior under catastrophic conditions, such as earthquakes or terrorist acts.

On Saturday, Nov. 3, donors Kenneth and Ann Stinson, Jack and Mary Ann Remick, and Ted and Tracy McCourtney; University President Rev. John I. Jenkins, C.S.C.; Executive Vice President John Affleck-Graves; Provost Thomas G. Burish; former dean Frank P. Incropera; interim dean James L. Merz; dean elect Peter K. Kilpatrick; and friends and faculty of the college gathered for a groundbreaking ceremony on the site of the future Stinson-Remick Hall of Engineering.


I believe that there is also no better place at this time to study engineering than at Notre Dame. We are carrying out forefront research that singularly benefits mankind, and we are performing highly sophisticated computational modeling of killer storms to avert the destruction of future “Katrinas.” At Notre Dame we are learning how to rid the earth, sky, and water of the contaminants that are killing millions of people throughout the world, and we are developing unique ways to sequester carbon dioxide to reduce global warming. We are also developing nanoelectronic devices and circuits that are smaller, faster, smarter, and consume less energy, along with the systems, architectures, and wireless capabilities that can provide information nearly instantaneously worldwide at a scale never before imagined. At Notre Dame we are developing “smart” sensors and materials for clinical diagnostics, drug delivery, surgery, and implants, and we are providing unprecedented computational power to the biologists who are working to eradicate diseases, such as cancer and malaria. All of these activities are central to the mission of Notre Dame as a Catholic university.

For the past 18 months, I have been privileged to preside over this college. During this time, we have added several energetic young faculty members with excellent research accomplishments and incredible enthusiasm for the teaching mission of the University. In addition, Robert J. Bernhard has joined the University as the vice president for research and professor of aerospace and mechanical engineering, and Peter K. Kilpatrick will soon be joining us as the new McCloskey Dean of Engineering and professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering (see related story on page 14). We have been awarded more than $32 million in external research awards and gifts, which does not include a $20 million Gates Foundation grant for the eradication of malaria — a project representing true interdisciplinary research between computer scientists and vector biologists. I have also been privileged to work with an extraordinary team of faculty and staff, who share a great love for Notre Dame and its wonderful student body.

We welcome, with enthusiasm, our new dean, who is fully prepared and uniquely capable to elevate the college to become one of the outstanding engineering programs in the United States. I have no doubt that when the fences come down just two years from now, Notre Dame’s College of Engineering will be poised to unleash the next level of intellectual firepower, teaching, and scholarly activity that is essential for Our Lady’s University to move forward as the “great Catholic university” which remains, as always, our goal.

James L. Merz
Interim Dean and the Frank M. Freimann
Professor of Electrical Engineering