PROVO — Self-flying drones, rocketry, robots, ultra-energy-efficient vehicles, developments in wheelchairs and one of the world’s largest radio telescopes. Those are just a few of the innovative projects recently created by students in the College of Engineering at Brigham Young University.
In addition to the impressive innovations, the college now has a new building to call home, one that is equipped to accommodate even more innovation and growth.
"(The building) is a result of a lot of planning and a lot of generous donations. … It exists as a result of the extraordinary efforts of many," said BYU President Kevin J Worthen during the dedicatory service Tuesday afternoon.
Located on the southeast corner of the Provo campus, the new 200,000 square-foot complex of two buildings — the engineering building and an adjacent research laboratory — house the Ira A. Fulton College of Engineering and Technology.
Officially named the Engineering Building, the new space follows the pattern of recent structures constructed on campus of being named for what is housed in the building, rather than being named after a person.
Although students have been using the space since the beginning of the fall semester, the official dedication marks the beginning of a new era for engineering students.
"This building was meant to inspire the students to continue their innovation," said Mallory Platt, one of the architects from VCBO Architecture who worked on the project. "We worked closely with the faculty, making sure what they wanted was represented here. And now, to see the students take ownership, sometimes in ways we didn't even think of, is neat."
Classrooms, teaching labs, research labs, experiential learning project space and office space make up the five-story building. While the top few floors of the new building look like modern classrooms, team rooms and office space, the "innovation floor" of the building focuses on building and problem solving.
"Project bays" house a variety of projects each semester and include tools, work space and materials. The research laboratory even includes two wind tunnels, a water tunnel, engine test facilities and combustion reactors. Harvey's Cafe, named in honor of Harvey Fletcher, the first dean of the college, resides on the ground level.
Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints offered remarks during the dedicatory service. He thanked all who had been a part of making the building possible and shared two fundamental reasons for holding a dedication.
First, dedications are held to express appreciation and gratitude. Second, dedications are held to celebrate "a new season" for the college.
"Today we honor the past, as we move into a new season, a new engineering building and engineering research laboratory," Elder Bednar said. "I pray we always will remember those who have gone before."
The building cost $85 million to build, and more than 17,000 donors funded 100 percent of the project.
There are 4,200 students in the college of engineering at BYU, where 11 different degrees are offered — chemical engineering, computer engineering, cybersecurity, industrial design, manufacturing engineering, technology and engineering studies, civil engineering, construction and facilities management, electrical engineering, information technology, and mechanical engineering.
Prior to the dedication, Elder Bednar spoke to students during the campus devotional. His remarks focused on finding eternal joy.
"Enduring joy endures in times and through experiences that are both good and bad" and is a result of righteous living, he said. He later added, "How important it is for us to never confuse or trade the enduring, deep joy of devoted discipleship for temporary and shallow fun."
For Jordyn Butcherite, a freshman from Wenatchee, Washington, hearing from Elder Bednar during the devotional was a timely reminder to focus on what is most important — especially with finals and the holidays approaching.
"No matter what is going on we can experience joy," she said. "Just keeping that perspective when life gets crazy is most important."