ECE ILLINOIS opens Electrical and Computer Engineering Building

ECE News

Meg Dickinson, ECE ILLINOIS
10/6/2014

Story Highlights

  • ECE ILLINOIS, along with state and university officials, will dedicate the new ECE Building this Friday.
  • The $95 million project was paid for half by the State of Illinois and half by private and corporate donations.
  • Ribbon-cutting ceremonies for several key spaces are scheduled to begin at 10:30 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 11.

After opening the new building with the start of classes in August, ECE ILLINOIS, along with state and University of Illinois officials, will dedicate the Electrical and Computer Engineering Building at a 1 p.m. ceremony Friday, Oct. 10.

The dedication is open to the public, and it will also be streamed online. A reception and tours will follow.

The ECE Alumni Board Homecoming Open House, also open to the public, is scheduled for 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 25.

“We are so pleased to be formally dedicating this space, which means so much for our department and for the university as a whole,” said ECE Department Head William H Sanders. “We’re very much looking forward to the events that will allow us to thank those whose support made this building possible.”

The $95 million project was paid for half by the State of Illinois and half by private and corporate donations. Ribbon-cutting ceremonies for several key spaces are scheduled to begin at 10:30 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 11.

The building is a new home for the department. At 235,000 square feet, it’s nearly twice the size of its former location within Everitt Laboratory.

The building features 45 research and instructional labs, as well as many spaces designed to allow for collaboration among students and faculty members. Those in the department can reserve conference rooms and study spaces with glass walls. These functional meeting rooms provide enclosed spaces that are still connected to the department. The building’s soaring lobby also features tables, chairs, and other seating, where students can meet outside of class or sip coffee while they study.

Professor Philip T Krein, chairman of the ECE New Building Committee, said those spaces were designed intentionally.

“The department now has places to gather, which is our culture,” Krein said. “We’ve tried very hard to design the building so it’s not merely open, unused space, but with focused gathering places. We're very gratified to see them in heavy use already.”

The new building houses all of ECE ILLINOIS’ instructional labs, some of which now have adjoining classrooms and room for faculty members and teaching assistants to stage equipment and test out concepts without occupying valuable lab space.

The Texas Instruments Electronics Design Lab provides an improved space where all ECE ILLINOIS freshmen will take ECE 110, Introduction to Electronics. The lab will allow them to start their college careers with hands-on learning of important concepts. The lab is visible through windows as you enter the building’s grand atrium.

Another highlight: a nanofabrication laboratory, the first of its kind planned for undergraduates, where students will learn cutting-edge fabrication technology. That lab is expected to open this spring.

The building also allows unstructured creativity, Krein said. For example, students will have access to the Open Projects Lab, where they will have access to specialized equipment to help them on projects not related to their classes. It’s expected to open this spring, as well.

Another aspect of the building’s design was also carefully considered - its energy efficiency.

Krein said the building’s energy use is on track as it pursues a goal of net-zero energy (to generate more energy than it uses over a year) and LEED Platinum certification. The focus on an energy-efficient design was important for ECE ILLINOIS because it shows the department is committed to sustainable energy and renewables.

“We can really demonstrate those in a real facility,” Krein said, adding that the building also demonstrates that net-zero energy buildings can function in what he calls an “all-in” climate, where the weather changes with the seasons and extremes are frequent.

The building will have solar panels on its roof, which are expected to be installed this fall, as well as on the roof of a nearby parking structure. The building also conserves energy, with features like an insulating terra cotta exterior, huge windows that allow ample sunlight in, a sun shade system that blocks some of the sun’s heat, advanced heating and cooling systems, and modern LED lights.

“This building is a reflection of ECE ILLINOIS’ legacy as a department where distinguished professionals start and further their careers, and where cutting-edge research changes the world,” Department Head Sanders said. “We believe it’s a tool that will launch us toward an even brighter future.”

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Media Contact

Julia Sullivan

Assistant Director of Communications
1064 ECE Building
(217) 300-3731
juliams@illinois.edu

Todd Sweet

Director of Communications
1066 ECE Building
(217) 333-5943
tmsweet@illinois.edu