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New Engineering Research Labs to Open this Spring

January 23, 2012

In an effort to upgrade its appeal to prospective students and advance the research efforts at the University, construction of additional engineering facilities are set for completion in May. The new building will mostly result in more laboratories for more research facilities for faculty members and their staff.

“KU is building a regional, if not national caliber, testing facility,” said Brian Cordill, an electrical engineering PhD student from Olathe. “It’s really going to allow us to do research that either can’t be done or isn’t being done in an academic setting.”

Cordill is currently working under Professor Sarah Seguin, also in the electrical engineering department. Their research efforts will be enhanced by the installation of an anechoic chamber, which allows for the studying of radio waves in an isolated, soundproof environment.

“It’ll allow us to do some pretty cool testing, and I think we’ll be the only academic institute with a chamber of its size within 800 miles,” said Cordill.

According to Seguin, the actual chamber installation will occur January 30th and the hope is to move in and begin testing by May. The chamber is funded by the National Science Foundation, costing $1.34 million alone. [EECS Associate Professor Carl Leuschen is the principal investigator on the project. The NSF award was given to the Center for the Remote Sensing of Ice Sheets.]

The research helps to ensure that all devices (cell phones, radios, iPods, airplane antennas, etc.) emitting some level of radio waves can adequately co-exist, which is no accident. It also works to lighten up the composite materials used to make airplanes, which is a benefit to the aviation industry.

Not only will this facility assist Dr. Seguin’s research, it will also provide a valuable tool to show prospective students.

“We’ll have a really nice showcase for recruiting new students,” Seguin said.

According to School of Engineering dean Stuart Bell, this new facility, only Phase I of construction, will be 43,000 square feet and has a total cost of $24 million. The next facility to be built, Phase II, will total 100,000 square feet and cost $65 million. A third phase is also planned.

As for the opening of the new facilities in a matter of months, both faculty and staff are excited.

“I personally can’t wait for the building to be open,” said Cordill. “And I like that the University and the state as a whole is focusing on training more engineers.”

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