NSights Blog

All together now: William N. Pennington Engineering Building fosters collaboration, synergy

New facility brings together the possibility of the entire College of Engineering

This fall, as the William N. Pennington Engineering Building opened, I was excited to move from my office in the Scrugham Engineering & Mines Building where I had worked since my arrival at the University in 2013 into the new building. For the whole College, the building is a big step forward, and it is especially important for the Department of Computer Science & Engineering.

As the executive director of the Cybersecurity Center, I know how important collaboration is. We work with colleagues all over campus and in the community who can approach problems from different angles, and working together allows us to find new ways to overcome the challenges we face in securing our cyber infrastructure. By uniting under the Cybersecurity Center, we are able to synergize our efforts and collaborate on new research.

The computer science department already has a strong record of collaboration, but one of the great benefits of the new engineering building is that all the CSE labs and graduate students are now in one building. This helps the faculty to collaborate with one other more closely as well as the grad students. Earlier, our labs had been in seven different buildings on campus, which made such collaboration more difficult.

In addition to the labs themselves, which are all in close proximity in the new building, I am also excited about the new collaboration space created between each lab. These rooms and workstations provide further opportunities for students to create long-lasting professional connections. (Hopefully, we will soon be able to use these collaboration spaces once the pandemic is over.)

The extra space—the computer science department now has about 10,000 more square feet—gives students more time in labs and will provide additional motivation and opportunity for graduate students to reach their full potential. For my lab specifically, we are working on several cybersecurity and networking projects. Students will get hands-on experience with the novel concepts we’re pioneering, setting them up for success in their careers.

Just as important to student success, though, is that the new building has open lounge spaces where students can relax during high-pressure situations. And when they need a bite to eat, there is a café on the first floor. These features allow students to maintain a healthy work-life balance that ultimately makes them better academics and researchers.

The William N. Pennington Engineering Building is playing a key role in bringing the entire department and the College of Engineering together, providing all of us exciting opportunities. The building is also a key feature to the rest of the world showing how the College and the University are moving forward and encouraging students and faculty to work with more synergy.  

Note: The Department of Computer Science & Engineering has moved into the new William N. Pennington Engineering Building. In so doing, it has consolidated its research laboratories from seven different buildings across campus to one, while increasing its footprint from 13,000 square feet to 23,000 square feet. Shamik Sengupta is the Ralph E. & Rose A. Hoeper Professor and the executive director of the Cybersecurity Center.

Photo of Shamik Sengupta
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