Chemical and Fuels Gets Improved Space

A war has simmered within the walls of the Merrill Engineering Building since they began going up about 40 years ago.

Thursday, the chemical and fuels engineering department opened its doors to celebrate a small victory.

Space is a constant source of conflict, and the department managed to capture some, thanks to recent remodelling.

“I’ve been in this building for about 38 years, and I’ve had a window for about five,” said Noel de Nevers, a professor of chemical and fuels engineering.

His new office is a vast improvement on the “dungeon” he once occupied. Windows make up almost an entire wall.

“This building is under constant remodeling, this was a particularly large one,” he said.

Empty space near the stairwell and old classrooms became offices, corridors are disappearing?all to accommodate the growing College of Engineering.

Under direction from Gov. Mike Leavitt, the college hopes to double its enrollment in five years, triple it in eight. And though space is needed now, another building is years away.

Merrill Engineering went up in three pieces, the first in 1959, according to de Nevers. The chemical engineering department was one of the initial four departments to occupy the building.

Two more departments moved in a little later, needing space.

The head of the chemical engineering department laid out that section of the building with the offices along the outside, partially surrounding the lab in the middle. The three stories and basement of the lab sheltered precious office space from encroachment.

“That was, I think, a brilliant defensive move,” de Nevers said. “It allowed him to hang on to a lot of space.”

The slowing economy has not helped efforts to raise funds for a future engineering building, according to Gerald Stringfellow, engineering college dean, who spoke at the open house.

“People have to feel wealthy before they give you money,” Stringfellow said. However, he remains optimistic about growth in the college.

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