Groundbreaking

IU officials break ground on the new Science and Engineering Laboratory Building. From left are IU President Michael A. McRobbie, Beth Irwin Schiffli and IU Trustees Philip N. Eskew Jr. and Cora J. Griffin. (Courtesy of Indiana University) (March 28, 2012)

Indiana University President Michael A. McRobbie presided over groundbreaking ceremonies March 28, for a new laboratory building at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis that will provide critically needed space for faculty to engage in path-breaking education and research that contribute extensively to the economic vitality of the state.

Construction of the $25 million Science and Engineering Laboratory Building is expected to be completed in 18 months. The building's first phase will provide 81,500 gross square feet of space.

"If great public universities like IU and Purdue are to continue to conduct the vital research that transforms our world and enhances our lives, then faculty and students must have the facilities and the space to support learning and research," McRobbie said.

In his former role as vice president for research, McRobbie said he appointed a committee to conduct a thorough study of the research space needs of the IU Bloomington and IUPUI campuses. The School of Engineering and Technology and the School of Science at IUPUI -- two schools that have experienced impressive growth -- were estimated to be about 100,000 square feet short of laboratory research space, he said.

"The building for which we break ground today is an essential step in further addressing the shortage of research and laboratory space," McRobbie said.

The Science and Engineering Laboratory Building will be the first non-medical science building to open on the Indianapolis campus in 20 years. The existing Science Building, which will be connected to the new building, was constructed in 1992.

McRobbie was joined at the groundbreaking ceremonies by Timothy Sands, executive vice president for academic affairs and provost, Purdue University; IUPUI Chancellor Charles R. Bantz; Simon J. Rhodes, dean of the School of Science at IUPUI; and David J. Russomanno, dean of the School of Engineering and Technology at IUPUI.

The first phase of the project will include space for biomedical engineering, psychobiology and renewable energy research programs. The second phase will provide space for teaching labs, meeting rooms, additional research laboratories and administrative offices for the School of Science administration.

"Today, more than ever, collaboration is at the heart of discovery," McRobbie said. "We must, then, provide for our scientists and scholars spaces that enable them to engage in collaborative, multidisciplinary activity. The Science and Engineering Laboratory Building will be just such a space."

During the ceremony, McRobbie presented the President's Medal for Excellence to Glenn Irwin Jr., M.D., chancellor emeritus of IUPUI and dean emeritus of the IU School of Medicine. The President's Medal is one of the highest awards the university can bestow. (To read more about Dr. Irwin, visit newscenter.iupui.edu/5548/Dr-Irwin-Awarded-IU-Presidents-Medal-for-Excellence.)

Referring to the president's remarks regarding collaboration, IUPUI Chancellor Bantz said, "We always want to have our eye on the goal, and that is to create the kind of scientific and engineering work that can transform not only the disciplines that create the next pacemaker, but to educate those students who will in fact build our future, and we believe they are going to build it together in collaboration."

The new building will have the most direct impact on the School of Engineering and Technology's research focus areas in biomedical engineering, energy engineering and information technology, Russomanno said.

"It is very appropriate that biomedical engineering will have our largest footprint in the building," Russomanno said. "Our biomedical engineering faculty and students' research efforts in biomaterials, biomechanics, cardiovascular engineering, neuroscience and tissue engineering will be greatly enhanced by the proximity to their colleagues in biology and chemistry from the School of Science."