(Times & Democrat (Orangeburg, SC) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) Feb. 02--"It's a quantum leap," said Dr. Saliman Isa, an electrical engineering professor at South Carolina State University.
"You are down here," he said as he pointed to the floor. "Then, all of a sudden, you are up here," he said, pointing to the ceiling.
Isa was comparing the aging Crawford Hall to the university's new, bright and airy Engineering and Computer Science Complex.
The science and math departments moved from Crawford into the new complex in late January and early February.
Isa said the move has brought about an amazing change in his students.
"You can see the energy," he said. "They're relaxed. They're ready to learn."
The new $24.5 million, 86,500-square-foot complex includes 10 classrooms, 28 laboratories, 81 faculty offices and a 215-seat auditorium. It houses the Center for Energy Studies and the Center for Modern Manufacturing, as well as the departments of Civil and Mechanical Engineering Technology, Mathematics & Computer Science and Industrial & Electrical Engineering Technology.
Interim Dean Stanley Ihekweazu called the new facility "state of the art."
"You can conduct scientific experiments anywhere if you have the equipment," he said. "But when you have it in a building that's new, that has all the amenities, that has all the space you need ... it offers you limitless opportunities to admit students and give them the instruction they need to succeed."
Having all faculty offices located together is an advantage because it encourages collaboration in grant writing and research, according to Ihekweazu.
In the past, professors were scattered throughout three different buildings, he said.
Professors and students were quick to praise the new building following a dedication ceremony and open house.
Some of them said they loved it just because the complex was new. Others said they loved the many windows, which made the building seem open.
Isa, who collaborates in micro-electronics research with Oak Ridge National Lab in Tennessee, said the new building provides space for his research.
He said he's had to turn down equipment that Oak Ridge wanted to give him in the past because he didn't have anywhere to put it.
The new building "provides us with a lot of opportunity to be able to explore," Isa said. "You can bring things in to test -- to just be curious."
Dr. Ali Eliadorani, a civil engineering professor, said he loves having everything new. The many labs are another advantage, he said.
What he appreciates the most, however, is a solid roof.
"In the old building, we had a problem with the roof and ceiling when it rained," he said. "When I applied for research equipment, I was afraid that it would get wet when they brought it."
But Eliadorani said he thinks the major advantage of the new building is that it will attract new students.
"When you're in those old buildings and a student comes to look around, they may not feel good about coming here," he said.
Jasmine McKinzie, a junior majoring in mechanical engineering technology, said she feels she'll do better in her studies because of the improved facilities and supplies.
Senior Caldwell McFadden noted that Crawford Hall offered students opportunities, but "you have everything here."
Crawford didn't have enough classrooms, and science and math students often had to cross campus to reach other buildings for some of their classes, he said.
Austin Passmore and Desmond Anderson said the thing they like about the new building is that the heating and air conditioning works. That wasn't the case in Crawford, they said.
"It took a long time to get it built," said Anderson, who's a senior. "I'm glad it was before I graduated."
Shaquaisha Woods said she loves the student lounges located on each floor.
"You don't have to go back to your room after every class," she said.
The complex was long overdue, student Marcies Wright said.
Like Woods, he loves the many-windowed lounges.
"I'm an outdoor person, and it's very open," he said. "Three sides are glass so it's open and light."
Dwayne Wilson, president and chief executive officer of Savannah River Nuclear Solutions LLC, was the keynote speaker at the dedication and ribbon-cutting ceremony for the facility.
He spoke about the value of partnerships between SRNS and the university.
The Fluor Corporation donated $155,000 through the SRS Foundation for the naming of the auditorium in the new complex.
Additionally, SRNS donated $25,000 to develop the Center for Energy Studies, which includes the study and production of biodiesel fuel, hydrogen fuel cells, solar energy initiatives and the production of hydrogen through switchgrass and agriculture waste products.
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