The Department of Aerospace Engineering Sciences is looking for a new home.
Early steps are being taken to construct a dedicated aerospace building.
"We're bursting at the seams here in the Engineering Center," said Doug Smith, assistant dean for programs and engagement. "The department is growing and we're doing a whole host of things the building just wasn't designed for."
The department has been housed in the Engineering Center since 1966, and the building hasn't kept up with today’s aerospace research and educational program needs. Entire fields that had not been conceived of when the Engineering Center was built, like UAVs and remote sensing, are now major focuses for the department.
"Our faculty and students are pushing the envelope in aerospace engineering sciences and applications. The current facilities just can’t handle the growth we’re seeing or support the exciting collaborative work that needs to be done," said Penina Axelrad, chair of aerospace engineering sciences.
The university is currently interviewing architectural firms and hopes to have a company selected by the end of the month. The design work itself will most likely require all of the 2016-17 academic year.
The new building will be about 83,000 sq. ft. and will include large indoor spaces for flight testing of unmanned aircraft as well as ground robots. It will also include modern research labs and large lecture halls for popular courses.
The building will be designed for an open, collaborative environment to encourage interdisciplinary work. It will be a far cry from the isolating concrete walls of the Engineering Center.
Where will the new building go? It will be on the university’s east Boulder campus, which is already home to related programs of LASP, the aerospace wind tunnel, astrophysics, and atmospheric sciences.
"Bringing aerospace together with these other departments in the same area of campus will create a clear presence for aeronautics and space learning and research. It will be CU-Boulder’s go-to place for space," said Axelrad.
There is still a long path to travel before a new building would open. Design services are being funded by the university, but the actual construction will require support from the private sector and the state legislature. University officials are engaged in ongoing discussions with donors and lawmakers about the project's future.
Stay tuned for more information in future newsletters and ways that you can help make it a reality.