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Plan invests in west campus

Oct 03, 2016   |   by Samantha Stern   |   The Dartmouth

Expect to see more scaffolding around campus. The College announced a plan on Sept. 8 to expand and reconstruct the west side of Dartmouth in an effort to connect central campus to the Connecticut river.

The “Green to Blue” plan is still in its nascent stages and is the result of a 2012 master planning effort by the Office of Planning, Design and Construction. Such an analysis is undertaken by the office about every 10 years to ensure that campus needs can be most effectively accommodated given the available development sites, said Lisa Hogarty, vice president of campus planning and facilities.

The Arthur L. Irving Institute of Energy and Society­ — a new inderdisciplinary institute aiming to solve global energy problems ­­— will stand at the center of the remodeling effort. The Green to Blue plan also includes the construction of a 180,000 square foot joint Thayer School of Engineering and computer science building in addition to the renovation of the Tuck School of Business. The new joint Thayer and computer science building, sited for Cummings Parking Lot, will be designed by Wilson Architects, a firm specializing in large laboratory buildings.

A committee composed of Thayer and computer science faculty have worked on planning this new interdisciplinary space since the summer of 2015.

Thayer is running into significant space constraints, Thayer dean Joseph Helble said, with a growing number of interested undergraduate major and non-major engineering students. Enrollment in engineering courses has skyrocketed over the past decade, and students are increasingly closed out of classes, he added.

Thayer saw 119 students graduate with Bachelors of Arts degrees in 2016. That’s about two times the number of engineering students that graduated in 1996, Helble said, and at the moment, the school does not have the faculty or physical facilities to accommodate the level of interest on campus.

As the divide between the digital and physical world disappears, Helble said that it makes sense for computer science and engineering faculty and students to be housed together.

“Virtually every device, every piece of hardware, now has software embedded in it,” Helble said. “[That] makes bringing computer science and engineering together seamlessly in one facility where students can interact with both faculties without barriers between them even more important.”

Although there are a limited number of courses – such as a class named “Digital Electronics” – that are cross-listed in the engineering and computer science departments, none are co-taught by faculty from each. While still in the brainstorming phase, a planning committee with Tuck, Thayer and computer science professors are envisioning new joint programs at the graduate level, a possible minor, a collection of undergraduate courses and winterim opportunities, Helble said.

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