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Former diner transitions to engineering studio at Polytechnic campus

August 29, 2006

Engineering students at ASU's Polytechnic campus have new space to create, develop and build.

The new engineering studio, called Studio 90, is set up unlike a typical classroom or lecture hall. Ten workstations allow teams of four students to work side by side using computers and high-tech tools to learn by doing. The space is equipped with the latest in technology.

The studio replaces what was the Run-N-Chef, an existing building that served as the fast-food restaurant when the campus was an Air Force base. A year and $1.1 million dollars later, architectural firm Jones Studio and contractor Johnson Carlier have transformed the idle space into a usable, 3,200-square-foot facility.

The new Studio 90 provides more space, larger work areas, shop availability, after-hours availability for project work, audio-visual capabilities, and the ability to demonstrate software and project work to all students.

“We have created this learning environment by observing the facilities in the best and most dynamic engineering schools around the world,” says ASU engineering professor Mark Henderson. “Teams have room for doing research and displaying the results. High-tech multimedia allows dynamic class presentations, with display capability of every team's computer to the whole class on large plasma screens and a digital projector.”

The majority of the space is the main studio, which is divided into two primary zones. The center of the room consists of several large group worktables where students will be constructing physical projects. Electrical connections and compressed air are available in these areas for the students' use.

The perimeter of the space includes the group workstations, each with a computer. The shop also provides access to milling equipment and a rapid prototyping machine that prints geometric part models in three-dimensional plastic.

“This facility condenses the computer, work and shop functions into a single building, where they were previously spread in numerous locations,” says Jacob Benyi of Jones Studio. “The interior architecture's main goal is to present an open, accessible space that allows groups to work and learn. The ceiling is intentionally left high, with the building's support systems exposed, as this will be used as a teaching tool within the program's lessons.”

Engineering faculty members are thrilled to have the new space and are eager about having the students work on projects in it.

“The first project for the sophomores will be to design and build underwater robots,” Henderson says. “We now have all of the necessary space and equipment to make these into reality.”

A dedication for the new building is planned for the fall.