• Engineering facility offers students 'real-world' context for basic principles
By NICK SWEEDO
Previously the popular venue for weekend movies, Cushing Auditorium has been trasformed into a new, state-of-the art learning center for engineering students.
"We feel that activities within the center will provide our students with a real-world context for the basic principles they are learning in their mathematics, science and engineering courses," said Frank Incropera, the McCloskey Dean of Engineering and a professor of mechanical engineering.
"I think its a great idea," said senior engineering student Rebecca Glatz. "It should be a good place for people to go if they are having trouble."
The Engineering Learning Center gives students access to electronic equipment, chemical fume hoods and a variety of engineering modules including pendulums and catapults. The 14 sections of the University's first year engineering course, Introduction to Engineering Systems, will use the center one at a time, said Natalie Gedde, the Engineering Learning Center manager.
Other engineering students who want to use the Center for a class project or who want access to one of the 18 personal computers in the Center can come in from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m., Monday through Friday or from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. on weekends.
While other universities have similar facilities, only Notre Dame's is available to all first-year students, said Gedde.
While encompassing all fields of engineering, the Center gives students the opportunity to work with engineers in other fields.
"Engineering has undergone such a change," said Paul Gio, director of the engineering and computing facility.
"Collaborative efforts are a necessity. You don't design by yourself anymore."
To assist the first-year students in the Center are 14 peer mentors, who are upperclassmen in the engineering program.
"The dropout rate all over the country is high for engineers because of the difficult curriculum," said Gedde. "The peer mentor program introduces the freshmen to students who have succeeded in the program and who can answer any questions that they might have."
The dedication ceremony, held at 4 p.m. today, will open with a 15-minute presentation detailing the unique history of Cushing 117, including its last 70 years as a lecture hall for thousands of Notre Dame students. Incropera will then discuss the goals of the learning center.
Provost Nathan Hatch and executive vice president Timothy Scully will be present at the ceremony, along with the College of Engineering Advisory Council. The ceremony is open to students, alumni and members of the community.
All News Stories for Friday, September 1, 2000