Skip to main content

News & events

Construction site turned classroom

By Brooke Fisher
Photo credit: Hensel-Phelps

Undergraduates from civil and environmental engineering tour the new Interdisciplinary Engineering Building to inspect reinforcing steel.

a group of people wearing safety vests and hardhats standing in the IEB construction site

Gathered on the third floor of the building, students learn about the reinforcing steel and conduit for post-tensioning steel cables, soon to be covered by an upcoming concrete pour. 

Technically, the first class session has already been held in the new Interdisciplinary Engineering Building (IEB) — despite the fact that the building is still being built.

But that was exactly the point. A learning opportunity didn’t go unnoticed by civil and environmental engineering (CEE) Professor Laura Lowes, who organized a tour of the under-construction building for her Reinforced Concrete Design class (CEE 452). In early October, about 20 CEE seniors toured the structure the day prior to the third floor concrete pour, while reinforcing steel was visible for inspection.

a group of people wearing safety vests and hardhats standing on the steps of the UW Club

Standing on the steps of the UW Club, adjacent to the IEB construction site.

“The tour provided an excellent opportunity for the students to see what the reinforcing steel layouts they have been drawing on paper look like in a real building, to learn about the building construction process, and to appreciate the complexities of real-world construction sites and projects,” explains Lowes.

The class session kicked off with a presentation led by the Hensel-Phelps Project Superintendent, Kabri Lehrman-Schmid, followed by a walking tour of the 70,000 square foot building. A few of the KPFF structural engineers who worked on the design, including CEE alumnus Jacob McCann (BSCE ‘02), were also in attendance. Following the tour, McCann and fellow KPFF structural engineer Melissa McKinney presented a talk about the structural design of the IEB.

The new five-story IEB will be an academic home for all undergraduate engineering students, with spaces for both learning and collaboration. The new facility will also support graduate programs, including classes and space for graduate teaching assistants to meet with undergraduate students. The state-of-the-art building is scheduled for substantial completion in December 2024 and college activities are anticipated to be held in the facility starting in spring 2025.

Building background

Learn more about the IEB and stay up to date on construction progress via the live feed.

Originally published December 11, 2023