By Wileen Wong Kromhout
The UCLA Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Science, established in 1945, consistently ranks among the top 10 engineering schools in public universities. In the last decade, the school’s teaching and research enterprise has grown and expanded greatly with a 30 percent net increase in the number of full-time faculty and a 70 percent increase in the undergraduate and graduate student population. Most significantly the research revenue of the school has grown more than 100 percent from approximately $50 million in 1997 to $110 million in 2011.
While these statistics are exciting and reflect impressive progress within UCLA Engineering, the school has also lost nearly 45,000 square feet, or about ten percent of assignable space in the current engineering complex. Further, advances in technology and enriched training of the next generation of society’s leaders require UCLA Engineering to continuously refine and expand its facilities. At the same time, emerging disciplines and research place new demands on the school to supply flexible working spaces and seamless technological integration.
To address these critical needs, the school is proposing a bold and ambitious new addition to the UCLA Engineering complex – Engineering VI, to replace Engineering IA. Located at the intersection of Westwood Boulevard and Strathmore Avenue, Engineering VI will be just steps from Ackerman Student Union, the James West Alumni Center and Pauley Pavilion.
“Multi-disciplinary centers like UCLA are replacing industry-sponsored research labs. That’s where the biggest changes in applied research are taking place. That’s where the lion’s share of all research is migrating. That’s the future,” said Henry Samueli ’75, MS ’76, PhD ’80, the CTO and Co-Founder of Broadcom Corporation.
Engineering VI will be constructed in two phases and funding has been secured from the National Institute of Standards and Technology, the school and the campus, allowing the school to move forward with phase 1. The school is currently working to raise additional funding for phase 2.
“Engineering VI is going to be a truly unique building, and not just for the school,” said Vijay K. Dhir, dean of UCLA Engineering. “The building will offer collaborative spaces for researchers throughout the Southern California region to help in the development of technology with broad social implications. We expect its powerful impact to reach beyond the City of Los Angeles and we look forward to raising the necessary funds for phase 2 soon.”
Given the grand challenges engineers face in the 21st century, common research themes in green energy, personalized health care, personalized learning, sustainability and clean water have emerged within the school. The impact of Engineering VI will be multi-fold and will enable opportunities to catalyze new scientific discoveries, new technologies and new areas of education especially in the realm of these critical research areas.
“In Southern California, UCLA is the largest source of academic invention and it will therefore be the example of UCLA that will begin the process that will eventuate in a new definition of the Southern California region as the crucible of new inventions, new jobs, and new solutions that will lift the spirits and the prospects of tens of millions of Californians and of those beyond,” said Professor William Ouchi of UCLA Anderson School of Management.
Engineering VI will provide easy access and special interactive space uniquely designed for entrepreneurs, scientists and engineers from UCLA, institutions in Los Angeles, other government labs and industry partners. This will allow for the incubation of creativity and accelerate inventions and ideas, research and development, and technology transfer to the marketplace.
Specifically phase 1 will be a six story building. It will house the Western Institute of Nanoelectronics on Green Engineering and Metrology (WIN-GEM). About 35,000 square feet of laboratory space on four levels will support research on low-power, nonvolatile nanoelectronics; carbon nanoelectronics and topological insulator; green manufacturing of novel nanomaterial-based energy technologies; and new materials for energy generation, storage and management; and a test-bed facility for technology advancement and commercialization. The roof of the building will include a solar-cell array for energy supply and power-management experimentation.
In addition, specialized space and infrastructure will be developed where students can be trained, postdoctoral scholars can conduct state-of-the-art experiments and faculty across disciplines can also interact to enable maximum collaboration.
Furthermore, Engineering VI will be built to LEEDGold standards, the second-highest national environmental ranking for green buildings.
“We’re excited for a number of reasons,” said Jane Chang, associate dean of research and physical resources at UCLA Engineering. “The basement features one of the most technologically advanced laboratories in the world, where vibrational isolation and electromagnetic interference shielding would enable the operation of highly sensitive instrumentation that probes materials and devices at the atomic/quantum scale. The first through fourth floors of phase 1 will have wet and dry research labs, supporting three Centers of Excellence at the school, and the top floor will be a space for technology advancement, a space we don’t currently have, to allow faculty, students and outside researchers to work together.”
The fifth floor will be an on-campus technology incubation resource with a mission to help accelerate the growth of entrepreneurial start-up companies and early stage technology research projects that originate from UCLA or from universities associated with the Centers of Excellence.
The three Centers of Excellence include the Western Institute of Nanoelectronics, Functional Engineered Nano Architectronics, and Molecularly Engineered Energy Materials, which presently occupy outdated labs in three separate buildings.
Phase 2, with six levels and 89,000 square feet, will also include a 250-seat distance learning center. Tentative plans are for construction of phase 1 to begin in the summer of 2012, with completion in fall of 2014 and for phase 2 to begin construction in winter of 2013.