2024 Investiture Information

All Thayer News

Building On Innovation

Jul 01, 2022   |   by Theresa D'Orsi   |   Dartmouth Engineer

If the soaring glass and brick exterior is any indication, there is something very cutting edge about the new Class of 1982 Engineering and Computer Science Center (ECSC) that has transformed Dartmouth’s West End into a new hub for innovation. (FLOOR-BY-FLOOR POSTER)

Step inside the light-filled atrium and you’ll notice open classrooms with movable walls, furniture on wheels, tech-enabled “smart” classrooms, wet and dry labs, and the Back of the Napkin Café, the grab-and-go eatery that opens to shared work benches and booths when inspiration strikes over coffee. But it’s what goes on among the faculty, staff, and students that’s really important.

Class of 1982 Engineering and Computer Sciences Center has transformed the West End into new hub for human-centered discovery. (Photo by Rob Strong '04)
Class of 1982 Engineering and Computer Sciences Center has transformed the West End into new hub for human-centered discovery. (Photo by Rob Strong '04)
ECSC Atrium open and bright from ceiling to floor
THE CENTER OF IT ALL: The bright and open atrium reflects the collaborative and cooperative spirit of Dartmouth’s engineering and computer science community. It runs the height of the building and the garden level commons with a broad staircase that doubles as stadium seating during events. (Photo by Rob Strong '04)

“Every aspect of the building is designed for how we teach and learn at Dartmouth,” says Alexis Abramson, dean of Thayer School of Engineering at Dartmouth. “Everything—from the floors to the furniture and to the tools in every classroom—encourages connection, creativity, collaboration, and active learning.”

­­Rising five stories above West Wheelock Street, ECSC is the first major Dartmouth building to welcome students, faculty, and visitors from across the Connecticut River to campus. The 160,000-square-foot facility, which connects via tunnels and bridges to MacLean Engineering Sciences Center and Cummings Hall, as well as to the new Arthur L. Irving Institute for Energy and Society, doubles Thayer’s footprint and serves as the new home for the the department of computer science, Magnuson Center for Entrepreneurship, the electron microscopy suite, and the new Design Initiative at Dartmouth (DIAD). Fitted with high-performance energy conservation features, ECSC is expected to earn LEED Platinum certification from the U.S. Green Building Council.

What began in 2013 as part of President Philip J. Hanlon ’77’s vision to significantly expand engineering at Dartmouth, the ECSC opened to students in March for the first day of spring term.

Its open architecture facilitates Dartmouth’s hallmark collaborative, interdisciplinary approach to education and research, Abramson says. “By bringing together engineering, computer science, energy, entrepreneurship, design, and business in the West End, we create the magic that only happens at the intersection of all these disciplines.”

"I'm excited to see how proximity will lead to new research collaborations and attract new professors, enriching the research portfolio of Dartmouth."

—Maria Nyamukuru Th'24, PhD candidate

ECSC atrium with students sitting at tables
Students from across engineering, computer sciences, and the liberal arts gather in the open atrium spaces for study and collaboration. (Photo by Rob Strong '04)

“I am excited by the new opportunities emerging for students to engage in the new center. Design offers a framework for collaboration across disciplines on research that addresses our world’s complex human-social-technical problems,” says Professor Sol Diamond ’97 Th’98, whose lab is in the new space.

Kyra McLaughlin ’23 agrees. She is working in Diamond’s lab to develop an improved nasal CPAP interface for preemies. “Learning in such a creative environment will be a source of inspiration to all aspiring designers and engineers and strengthen the human-centered design community at Dartmouth,” says Mclaughlin, who is studying engineering modified with studio art and minoring in human-centered design. “That’s where you’ll find me!”

Class of 1982 Engineering and Computer Science center at dusk. (Photo by Rob Strong '04)

"The intersection of engineering and computer science is where the great discoveries lie."

—Professor Kofi Odame

ECSC students in the lab

Focus on Impact

The new center greatly expands Dartmouth’s capacity to take ideas from the lab to the marketplace. From green energy technology to mobile devices that monitor health to intelligent systems that can improve everyday life, research here is tackled collaboratively by faculty and students from across engineering, computer science, and other disciplines. With Magnuson Center for Entrepreneurship located on the ground floor, faculty and students have ready access to resources to support their startup efforts. "We have a tangible emphasis on entrepreneurship. This provides more opportunities to connect, from bottom up, phenomenal research with broader societal challenges and opportunities," says Professor Lee Lynd.

ecsc atrium

Engineering Without Boundaries

Faculty from different disciplines will be able to co-teach courses in a range of high-tech spaces. The Technology-Enhanced Active Learning (TEAL) Classrooms integrate computer science and engineering with a flexible “flipped classroom” that enables professors and students to cluster around coding projects or collaborate on design challenges. The Design Loft, home of the new Design Initiative at Dartmouth (DIAD), is instantly reconfigurable into arrangements for lectures, hands-on workshops, or casual conversation. “It will allow our multidisciplinary community to come together to inspire each other and create ideas,” says Professor Eugene Korsunskiy, co-leader of DIAD.

"Many of today’s pressing questions require a convergent approach that brings together many academic disciplines. The new environment is ideally suited to support such an approach."

—Professor Klaus Keller

ECSC couch ii lab

Hands-On Learning

Classrooms and offices are interspersed with project studios and labs that encourage students to learn by doing at every turn. Couch Project Lab II doubles the space for team-based learning and the Harold Edward Cable Makerspace is outfitted with beginner-friendly fabrication equipment and 3-D printers.

This article appeared in the Spring 2022 issue of the Dartmouth Engineer magazine.

For contacts and other media information visit our Media Resources page.