Saint Martin’s launches classes in new engineering building

Jan. 31, 2013

LACEY, WASHINGTON — Saint Martin’s University engineering students started spring semester on a high note, attending class in the University’s innovative new “green” engineering building, Father Richard Cebula, O.S.B. Hall.

engineering The new three-story building in the heart of the University’s campus has been generating excitement among Saint Martin’s engineering students since construction began, according to Zella Kahn-Jetter, Ph.D., P.E., dean of The Hal and Inge Marcus School of Engineering. With its numerous cutting-edge structural features, the building became the site of educational field trips for engineering students as it was erected. Its completion has been highly anticipated by students and faculty members alike.

“You can feel that sense of excitement: everything is new; everything is clean; everything is high-tech – it is causing quite a buzz,” Kahn-Jetter said.

Designed with the goal of achieving LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Platinum Certification – the highest awarded – from the U.S. Building Council, most documentation for the certification has been submitted, explained Kahn-Jetter. She anticipates the process to be completed in time for Cebula Hall’s official building dedication on Earth Day, April 22, 2013.

Kahn-Jetter described the building as “one huge laboratory.” It was built with an eye toward interactive teaching and learning, not only for students and faculty, but for practicing engineers and the public. Pipes, beams, parts of the geothermal heating/cooling system and other structural elements were intentionally left exposed to permit their study.

“We’re educating engineers, and this gives students a much better idea than photos or diagrams of what things actually look like in the guts of a build,” she said. Many of Cebula Hall’s features, such as the large roof-top solar panel system, function both for efficiency and to serve as a laboratory. A “dashboard” inside the building lets visitors see how efficiently that system, the air-quality system and others are operating.

The end result of learning in such a building is that the school’s students will be able to put hands-on knowledge of environmentally sound systems, practices and tools to work when they graduate.

She anticipates the building also becoming a popular meeting place with local and regional engineering professional societies.

Having more than doubled the space of the previous engineering building, Cebula Hall will enable the University to increase the number of qualified engineering students it accepts, Kahn-Jetter said. The University’s respected 65-year-old engineering program offers undergraduate degrees in civil engineering and mechanical engineering and graduate degrees in civil engineering, engineering management, and as of September, mechanical engineering. Some 216 engineering students were enrolled fall semester. Of all the first-year students Saint Martin's welcomed to campus this fall, 19 percent planned to major in engineering.

Kahn-Jetter said most program graduates find employment here in Washington state, which ranks second among the top 10 technology states in the number of engineers it hires.

“The job outlook for engineering in our area is quite good,” she said. “The market is doing well, and slowly improving.”

Saint Martin’s University is an independent four-year, coeducational university located on a wooded campus of more than 300 acres in Lacey, Washington. Established in 1895 by the Catholic Order of Saint Benedict, the University is one of 14 Benedictine colleges and universities in the United States and Canada, and the only one west of the Rocky Mountains. Saint Martin’s University prepares students for successful lives through its 23 majors and seven graduate programs spanning the liberal arts, business, education, nursing and engineering. Saint Martin’s welcomes more than 1,100 undergraduate students and 400 graduate students from many ethnic and religious backgrounds to its Lacey campus, and 300 more undergraduate students to its extension campuses located at Joint Base Lewis-McChord and Centralia College. Visit the Saint Martin’s University website at www.stmartin.edu.

For additional information:

Zella Kahn-Jetter, Ph.D., P.E.
Dean, The Hal and Inge Marcus School of Engineering
Saint Martin’s University
360-438-4553; zkahnjetter@stmartin.edu

Sarah Holdener
Director of event services
Saint Martin’s University
360-412-6140; sholdener@stmartin.edu