Civil, environmental and geodetic engineering students are coping with the loss of their community workspace.
A forum with students and development leaders was held Tuesday in Koffolt Laboratories after students working within the civil, environmental and geodetic engineering department were told via email Tuesday that the fourth floor of Bolz Hall would close due to renovation. The floor will be shut down for the remainder of the spring semester and is set to be completed Aug. 1, creating uncertainty for current CEGE students, though accommodations are being arranged.
Among the student attendees was Alexander Vieira, a third-year in civil engineering.
“It’s the epicenter of our daily lives,” Vieira said of the fourth floor of Bolz Hall. “It’s where we go to congregate and collaborate with each other.”
Vieira said in an email that the space offers computers with software needed to complete coursework as well as a place to study and visit nearby professors in office hours due to its proximity to offices. To CEGE students “generally spend every moment they’re not in class there,” Vieira said.
For graduating seniors especially, this floor is where collaborations for senior capstone projects take place, Vieira said.
“The capstone is a two-semester-long senior graduating course,” he said. “Class took place in those labs that are being shut down.”
Vieira said civic engineering students are not confident in the alternatives being offered by the department or Engineering Technology Services.
“We are not being told much of anything,” Vieira said. “We are being promised things that have yet to be delivered as far as timeframe or what is actually going to be offered to us. Basically, at this point we are being offered promises.”
Michael Hagenberger, panel member at the forum and associate dean of facilities for the College of Engineering, said he understands students’ concerns but that space is a “college-wide problem.”
“Space is a very limited resource on campus. I’ll be honest with you: All of the departments in the College [of Engineering] are really trying to share,” he said.
During the forum, Hagenberger said classes are being relocated to different rooms, and by next week students will have access to the fifth floor of Smith Laboratory, the seventh floor of Dreese Laboratories and another unconfirmed lab in Scott Laboratory to work and collaborate outside of class. Printers will still be available for CEGE students on the third floor of Bolz Hall.
Hagenberger said he understands how students may feel right now.
“This is going to create some stress. There are going to be some people that just given their schedule, it’s challenging,” Hagenberger said. “We’re kind of, in a way, disrupting this community that they have created.”
However, Hagenberger said he believes the challenges being faced by the CEGE department and current students will yield great results for future students.
“What this is going to provide moving forward is a 160 student-seat design studio for all civil, environmental and geodetic engineering students,” Hagenberger said. “It’s going to colocate advising in student space. It’s going to be a student lounge; there’s going to be huddle and conference rooms with all AV.”
For current CEGE students, the future upgrades are not relieving the feeling of panic and disappointment, Vieira said.
“As civil engineering majors, we’re told the importance of community outreach, and how important that is to project planning,” Viera said. “What we’re seeing here runs, I would say, opposite to what we are taught.”