Jim Melsa, Engineering, (515) 294-5935
Dave Holger, Engineering, (515) 294-1309
Skip Derra, News Service, (515) 294-4917


AMES, Iowa -- Howe Hall, the first phase of the Engineering Teaching and Research Complex (ETRC), is the most visible sign of Iowa State University's effort to educate engineers well into the next century. To do this, Howe Hall will bring together the three essential elements of engineering at Iowa State: education, research and service.

Iowa State University officials will dedicate Howe Hall at 10 a.m., Saturday, Oct. 23, in a ceremony in the building's atrium. The 163,000 gross square foot building is an architecturally striking facility that will help reshape how engineering is taught.

"Howe Hall is the flagship effort by our College of Engineering to move engineering education into the next century," said ISU President Martin Jischke. "In the classrooms and labs of Howe Hall, engineering practice will be combined with engineering education and outreach, providing our students with an educational experience that will prepare them to 'hit the floor running' when they graduate. They will be able to step into challenging positions and perform immediately."

"The goal has always been to create a more practice oriented and collaborative approach to engineering education," said Engineering Dean Jim Melsa. "We have done that in Howe Hall. We have the high-tech space needed to provide not only a high-quality educational experience for undergraduate and graduate students, but also for engineers throughout their careers. This is a facility dedicated to the idea of engineering being a profession based on a lifetime of learning."

Stanley and Helen Howe Hall is named after the Muscatine, Iowa, couple who donated $6 million to the ETRC. Stanley Howe is chairman emeritus and a member of the board of directors at HON INDUSTRIES, a manufacturer of office furniture and prefabricated fireplace units. The Howes' gift is supplemented with an additional $1 million in furniture from HON INDUSTRIES.

Howe Hall will be home to the Department of Aerospace Engineering and Engineering Mechanics, the Virtual Reality Applications Center, Engineering Distance Education and the Center for Industrial Research and Service. It also will house the C6, a next generation virtual reality room; environmental and aerodynamic wind tunnels; a 275-seat auditorium; four high-tech classrooms and two high-tech lecture halls; and teaching and research labs for mechanical vibrations, acoustics, stress analysis, composite materials aerospace structures, strength of materials and fluid mechanics.

More than 300 faculty, staff and students will make Howe Hall home, and it will be used by more than 2,000 students each week when it is up and in full swing, according to Associate Engineering Dean Dave Holger.

Overall ETRC will consist of two buildings -- Howe Hall on the west side (phase I) and a complementary building on the east side (phase II) of Bissell Road. The buildings will be joined by a skywalk. Phase II of ETRC (construction begins in early 2000 and proposed to be called the Gary and Donna Hoover Hall) will provide 101,000 gross square feet of space and will include a 400-seat auditorium and additional laboratories and classrooms, as well as computer labs for students.

When both phases are complete, the ETRC will provide 264,000-gross-square-feet (158,000 net square feet) of space. It will include multi-media and distance learning equipment, and communications technologies linking Iowa State to schools, community colleges, engineers and industry.

The ETRC signals a strong commitment to the future of engineering by Iowa State and the state of Iowa, according to Melsa.

"ETRC is the largest capital project ever undertaken by Iowa State," Melsa said. "It's a clear signal that engineering at Iowa State will continue to play a crucial role in the nation into the next millennium. The state of Iowa also has gotten behind this project and legislators have guaranteed, through their commitment to ETRC, that the engineering graduates of Iowa State will remain on the cutting edge of their profession."

The goal of ETRC and the College's Re-engineering Engineering Education initiative is to help students learn engineering concepts through direct involvement with their application, Melsa explained.

In the ETRC, an engineering student will not only learn the theory of suspension bridges, but also will see what happens when such bridges are pushed to their limits through computer visualization techniques. The student will also take part in industrially relevant research projects where he or she will not only apply engineering expertise, but also learn how to work in teams and to develop leadership skills. The end result will be a student who has learned rather than been taught engineering, and experience will be a key to that student’s education.

"Companies need engineering graduates who can perform right out of school," Melsa said. "They've told us they need graduates who can take on a wide range of tasks, work in teams and provide well thought-out solutions that consider a wide range of variables."

Melsa added that because engineering is an ever-changing profession, the ETRC will facilitate the "lifetime of learning" required by practicing engineers to stay abreast of their fields. Finally, the ETRC will reach out to young students, especially minorities and women, who are first considering career paths and entice them into engineering.

"Engineering changes rapidly," Melsa said. "It changes in how it is performed, in what it is performed with, and where it is performed. With the ETRC, Iowa State will stay on top of changes in the profession and shape the future of engineering education."

Funding of the $61-million ETRC came from the state of Iowa ($33 million) and from non-state sources ($28 million). It is part of the ISU Foundation's $425-million Campaign Destiny: To Become the Best.

A few classes have already begun in Howe Hall and the building is scheduled for full utilization in the spring semester of 2000. Construction of Hoover Hall will begin next January with completion scheduled for the fall of 2001.

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Reporters are welcome to attend the dedication of Howe Hall at 10 a.m., Saturday, Oct. 23. For more information, contact Skip Derra, ISU News Service, (515) 294-4917.
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