Photo by Arbela Capas


Feb. 6, 2018

Students and faculty settle into Washkewicz Hall as spring semester begins

The beginning of the semester may be busier than usual at the Washkewicz College of Engineering as students settle into the new building, Donald E. Washkewicz Hall.

Designed by CBLH Design and Harley Ellis Devereaux (HED), Gilbane Building Company constructed the first phase of the two-phase project just in time for the spring semester and dedication ceremony, which occurred on Dec. 15. Phase two will be complete by December 2018.

Managed by the office of the university architect, the 18-month construction of phase one cost $46 million to complete the first 60,000 square feet of Washkewicz Hall. The ongoing construction of phase two fulfills the last $16 million of the budget and 40,000 square feet. The university implements two-phase strategies like this to accommodate schedule and budget.

“There’s a construction budget and there’s what we call ‘soft cost,’ which add up to the total project cost,” Bruce Ferguson, university architect and director or planning, design and construction, said.

To get the total cost of the project, there’s the construction cost added to the soft cost, which are costs on every project but aren’t immediately apparent to people, said Ferguson. These include paying for the actual design, the state reviews and permits, furniture, testing and inspection companies, etc.

Seventy-five to 80 percent of the budget for phase one went to construction, and 20-25 percent of the budget to soft costs. Despite major funding from alumni Donald and Pam Washkewicz and the Parker Hannifin Foundation, the state of Ohio also helped cover the cost of constructing the building. Washkewicz retired as chairman and chief executive officer from Parker Hannifin in 2016.

Washkewicz Hall includes all the latest technology to foster student success including “MakerSpace” in the lower level of the building and simulation labs throughout the building.

“Students who come up with engineering ideas can prototype their designs and build them in this MakerSpace,” said Ferguson. “So they can come up with an idea and sketch it all out, possibly get input from faculty, and … either in class time or after hours, they can then go down into the space with all these tools and machinery (and) can fabricate a prototype of their product. Who knows, if they come up with a brilliant idea, maybe it can grow legs once they graduate and be a viable product.”

Simulation labs located throughout the building allow students to model real career steps and gain real experience. “They are rooms full of very powerful computers so students can do computer simulations and look at their ideas in virtual reality, allowing students to refine their ideas before using the MakerSpace,” Ferguson said. “It’s no different than how they would do it once they graduate and work for a company.”

Ferguson added, “We’re always focused on student success, and to achieve student success we always try to build in the best technology to foster student success within the budget we have available.”

The technology and career-preparing components throughout Washkewicz Hall aren’t the only perks to the new space.

“The facilities are definitely living up to expectations, as everything is aesthetically pleasing, clean and new,” said Dorothy Zhao, a computer science major taking an engineering statistics class in WH. “Washkewicz Hall differs from Fenn Hall in that there are more colors other than just gray. The new building is less dull, more vibrant, and has many areas to sit down and relax in between classes.”

 “[It’s] easy to navigate as the layout of the floor plans are almost identical on every floor and therefore very simple,” Zhao added. “As a student, I can benefit from the new study labs and well-lit areas with natural lighting to study. Classrooms are spacious and bright, so I can pay attention during class.”

Whether prototyping the next big idea or looking for a space to study and focus, students settling into the new home for engineering have a facility designed to assist in their success.



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