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ISET Opening Marks 'A Very Special Milestone'
The $34 million ISET (Integrated Science, Engineering, and Technology) complex is the largest single construction project in university history. It will bring together students and faculty from a variety of science, engineering, and technology disciplines in a single complex, with state-of-the-art facilities designed to encourage collaboration and interdisciplinary learning.
Phase I of the ISET project included the renovation of the east wing of Dana Hall and the construction of a gleaming new 37,000-square-foot building. Phase II, which involves the renovation of the west wing of Dana Hall, is scheduled for completion in January 2006.
Peter Eio, chairman of the Board of Regents, said the opening of the new complex is “the culmination of a great deal of hard work and planning,” and represents “a very special milestone in the history of the university.”
Caitlin Rega, a junior majoring in mechanical engineering, gave several hundred guests at Monday’s opening celebration a first-hand account of the impact that the new complex will have on student learning. Through a NASA EPSCoR grant, Rega spent the summer doing research aimed at improving the efficiency of the air flow in NASA space helmets. She did all her work in the bright, modern Environmental Engineering Lab on the second floor of the new building.
“This research would not have been possible a year ago,” Rega said. “I was able to perform my research on the brand new Dell computers and then walk over to the ventilation hood to perform my testing. Everything was within arms reach and so accessible.
“I think that ISET is a great contribution to the University of Hartford campus,” Rega said.
After the speaking portion of Monday’s ISET opening, faculty and students from a number of different disciplines gave demonstrations of the kind of work they will be doing in the new ISET facilities. Rega, together with Assistant Professor Tom Filburn, conducted one of the demonstrations, as she showed how she set up a system for visually testing air flow in space helmets.
Earlier, during the speaking program, Kamen, the inventor of the Segway™ Human Transporter and a passionate advocate for science and technology education, addressed growing concerns about the outsourcing of high-tech jobs and increasing competition from other parts of the world.
Rather than worrying about that competition, educators and policy makers should do all they can to support science and technology education in the United States, and embrace the spread of such education around the world, Kamen said.
“Imagine a world where there are six billion people capable of creating wealth, six billion people capable of making a difference,” Kamen said. “This place (the university) gets it. You are in the right place at the right time, with the right people, with the right vision.”