Purdue, PRF dedicate Wang Hall as engineering grows to meet demand

September 19, 2014  


Wang Hall ribbon-cutting

From left, West Lafayette Mayor John Dennis; Ragu Balakrishnan, head of the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering; Leah Jamieson, dean of the College of Engineering; Lucy and Patrick Wang; Purdue President Mitch Daniels; and Dan Hasler, president of the Purdue Research Foundation and chief entrepreneurial officer, take part in the ribbon cutting during Friday's (Sept. 19) Seng-Liang Wang Hall dedication. (Purdue University photo/ Mark Simons)
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WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - Purdue University on Friday (Sept. 19) moved forward to meet the nation's demand for more engineers while keeping down the cost of higher education through a building based on an innovative public/private partnership.

Purdue and the Purdue Research Foundation dedicated the new $38.9 million Seng-Liang Wang Hall, for which PRF is leasing space to the university and private businesses. The four-story, 147,000-square-foot building is located at 516 Northwestern Ave., across from the Purdue Mall and next to the Northwestern Avenue parking garage.

“This public/private mix is a first for Purdue and it proved a great success,” President Mitch Daniels said. “Purdue Research Foundation's approach saved millions on construction and created a revenue stream to support Wang Hall. It is a formula that we plan to use again for other new construction on Purdue's campus.

“None of this would have been possible, however, without the dedication and financial support of our Purdue alumni. We especially thank Patrick Wang and his wife, Lucy, for their gift of $5 million to name the building in honor of his father, Seng-Liang Wang.”

Seng-Liang Wang

Seng-Liang Wang  
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Patrick Wang earned his bachelor's and master's degrees in electrical engineering from Purdue, both in 1972. At age 21, he went back to Hong Kong with every intention of returning to get his doctorate, but his father challenged him to instead try his hand at business. With $100,000 and just one customer, the two made small motors for a new innovation - hair blow dryers.

Today the company that the father founded in 1959, Johnson Electric Group, is the global leader in the micro-motor industry, and the son is chairman and chief executive officer.

“My father was a visionary in electronics and understood our changing world,” Patrick Wang said. “I am pleased that a building of this caliber is part of Purdue University to educate future generations of engineers and entrepreneurs.”

Wang Hall is part of the College of Engineering's strategic plan to grow the faculty 30 percent and increase undergraduate enrollment by 10 percent and graduate enrollment by 25 percent.

The School of Electrical and Computer Engineering - the largest school in the College of Engineering - will use 40 percent of the building for laboratories and offices, forming the third leg of the “ECE triangle” with the Electrical Engineering Building and the Materials and Electrical Engineering Building across the street.

Ragu Balakrishnan, the Michael and Katherine Birck Head of Electrical and Computer Engineering, called the building a capstone for the school's 125th anniversary. Thanks to donors, Wang Hall offers advanced laboratory space that will support such fields as:

* Power, energy and sustainability, especially for bulk power systems, and the next generation of marine, aerospace and vehicular power and propulsion systems.

* Nanodevices, with a focus on electronic transport in nanostructures.

* Circuit design for radio frequency (RF)/mixed-signal/analog circuits and systems for wireless communications and biomedical applications.

* On-chip electromagnetics focusing on computational electromagnetic solutions for next-generation circuit design.

* Microelectromechanical systems (MEMS), adaptive radio electronics and sensors with applications ranging from medical devices to smartphones.

Wang Hall dedication

A robot presents scissors for Friday's (Sept. 19) ribbon cutting during the dedication of Seng-Liang Wang Hall. (Purdue University photo/Mark Simons)
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A $1 million grant from the privately held Grainger Foundation will enable faculty and students to go beyond designing electrical machinery to actually fabricating them, which is a unique capability for a university. A gift from ECE alumnus Jai Gupta, who earned his doctorate at Purdue in 1974, adds computational labs to aid nanodevice research. Research in Wang Hall on integrated RF and wireless systems is funded by Tellabs Inc., founded by Purdue electrical engineering alumnus and philanthropist Michael Birck, retired chairman of Tellabs and former Purdue trustee.

Professional online programs for engineering and technology will share an area on the second floor. The fourth floor is “swing space,” now temporarily occupied by the faculty and staff from Grissom Hall.

Leah Jamieson, the John A. Edwardson Dean of Engineering, said, “This swing space is a lifesaver for engineering. As we add 107 new faculty members, we will need more space for faculty, students and labs. Rather than build everything new, we are aggressively re-envisioning and reinventing space in our core older buildings. As we renovate, the occupants of these older buildings will move temporarily to Wang, allowing us to work faster and improve space utilization efficiency in our existing buildings by 50 percent.”

Like Wang Hall, the renovated buildings will provide more collaborative and open space, sunlight, and energy efficiency.

Wang Hall was built on practices common in the business world but new to the Purdue campus.

About 80 percent of Wang Hall is leased by engineering. The Purdue Federal Credit Union leases 4,000 square feet on the first floor’s south end, and 8,000 square feet is left for another private business.

In addition to generating lease revenue to support the building, the foundation saved money by using a “construction management at risk” approach, in which the project manager guaranteed the final price before the contract was signed. The construction manager worked with PRF and Purdue during the design process to ensure goals were met without going over budget.

Dan Hasler

Dan Hasler  
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Partnership efforts also involved the community.

“Our private/public partnership included many different entities working together to make something good happen,” said Dan Hasler, Purdue Research Foundation president and chief entrepreneurial officer. “This included the state of Indiana, Purdue University, Purdue alumni, the Tippecanoe Area Planning Commission, West Lafayette City Council, New Chauncey Neighborhood Association and others.

“This combined effort means Purdue faculty, staff and students have another cutting-edge facility where they can teach, research and innovate. When they do that, they will create important technologies that move through the innovation ecosystem to the public to help our global society.”

As with all publicly supported entities, leases for Wang are subject to review by the Indiana Commission for Higher Education and approval by the Indiana State Budget Committee.

More about Patrick and Lucy Wang: Patrick received a Distinguished Engineering Alumnus Award and an honorary doctorate from Purdue. Lucy earned her bachelor's degree in business administration from the University of Southern California. She was vice chair of Pro-Active Learning, a summer camp program in Hong Kong.

More about the College of Engineering:

The college has nearly 11,000 students enrolled in its 14 schools, departments and interdisciplinary divisions. The college also houses programs such as Engineering Projects in Community Service (EPICS), Minority Engineering Program, Women in Engineering Program, Global Engineering Program, Office of Professional Practice (co-op) and the Indiana Space Grant Consortium. Purdue’s College of Engineering is ranked No. 8 nationally in the U.S.News & World Report ranking of graduate programs in engineering and ninth nationally in its ranking of undergraduate programs among doctoral-granting universities. It was ranked No. 2 nationally in the Wall Street Journal's most recent (2010) survey of recruiters.

Wang Hall exterior

Seng-Liang Wang Hall is located just north of the Northwestern Avenue Parking Garage. It is designed primarily to provide laboratories, offices, conference rooms and support facilities for the School of Electrical and Computer Engineering. (Purdue University/Mark Simons)
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More about the School of Electrical and Computer Engineering:

With 80-plus faculty members and about 1,100 undergraduate and 725 graduate students, the school is one of the largest in the nation, and its programs are consistently ranked among the best. The school has the highest volume of research among all the university's schools and departments.

More about the Purdue Research Foundation:

The Purdue Research Foundation is a private, nonprofit foundation created to advance the mission of Purdue University. Established in 1930, the foundation accepts gifts; administers trusts; funds scholarships and grants; acquires property; and promotes entrepreneurial activities on behalf of Purdue. The foundation manages the Purdue Foundry, Purdue Office of Technology Commercialization, Purdue Research Park, Purdue Technology Centers and University Development Office. The foundation received the 2014 Incubator Network of the Year from the National Business Incubation Association for its work in entrepreneurship. For more information about funding and investment opportunities in startups based on a Purdue innovation, contact the Purdue Foundry at foundry@prf.org

Media contacts: Judith Barra Austin, 765-494-2432, cell 703-201-9934, jbaustin@purdue.edu

Cynthia Sequin, 765-588-3340, cell 765-413-6031, casequin@prf.org 

Sources: Mitch Daniels, president@purdue.edu

Dan Hasler, 765-588-3470, djhasler@prf.org

Leah Jamieson, 765-494-5346, lhj@purdue.edu

Ragu Balakrishnan, 765-494-3539, ragu@purdue.edu

Note to Journalists: Video B-roll is available for download at ftp://news69.uns.purdue.edu/Public/WangHall/.

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