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The George Washington University Opens Largest Science and Engineering Hall in D.C.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015  
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The George Washington University has formally opened its new Science and Engineering Hall (SEH), a $275 million, 500,000-square-foot building with state-of-the-art research facilities and programs that will educate the next generation of innovators and support faculty as they develop knowledge that will solve global problems and help improve the lives of millions worldwide.

“I can't imagine a stronger statement about the importance of science and engineering to America's future than the placement of this extraordinary facility right in the heart of the nation's capital,” said GW President Steven Knapp.

In opening the hall—the largest academic building dedicated to science and engineering in the nation’s capital—the university also announced an in-kind grant of software licenses from Siemens, with a commercial value of $30 million, to enhance programs in the School of Engineering and Applied Science (SEAS) and strengthen a long-standing partnership between the technology company and the university.

During the last decade, GW’s research funding has grown 80 percent, increasing the need for modern labs to further faculty members’ cutting-edge experiments. Inside SEH, a nanofabrication lab allows researchers to build and work with devices that measure billionths of a meter in an intensely clean environment that ensures the room is free of contaminants as seemingly harmless as dust. An imaging suite shows researchers samples, such as minuscule cells, magnified by 1 million times, and can create 3-D reconstructions of them. And at three stories tall, a “high bay” provides enough height and concrete strength to test large structures and inform how buildings and bridges can be built to be more earthquake resistant.

SEH doubles the existing space for science and engineering disciplines on the university’s Foggy Bottom Campus, and is now home to thousands of students and roughly 140 faculty members.

“Investing in the infrastructure to support science and engineering learning and research is critical, particularly given the fact that science, technology, engineering and mathematics careers are projected to increase substantially,” said Nelson Carbonell, chairman of the GW Board of Trustees, who received his bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering at GW. “Our faculty now have more resources to perform their groundbreaking research, and our students will be prepared to become leaders in STEM fields.”

With SEH, students and faculty have even greater opportunity to pursue their passions for changing the world. Research conducted in SEH will advance human health, expand society’s understanding of nature and create new solutions through technological innovation.

Students and faculty now will have access to Siemens’ product lifecycle management (PLM) software, which is used throughout the global manufacturing industry to design, develop and manufacture some of the world’s most sophisticated products in a variety of industries, including aerospace, automotive, medical, machinery and high-tech electronics. The PLM software will support student course work and research related to computer-aided design, engineering simulation, creative engineering design, digital manufacturing and manufacturing management.

Researchers at GW also have the advantage of working closely with other partners at influential scientific and technical organizations in the Washington, D.C., region, including the National Institutes of Health, NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center and Smithsonian Institution, among others. As GW’s faculty members look for ways to improve everything from tissue regeneration and drug delivery to robotics and sustainable ecosystems, the work researchers conduct at SEH will have an impact beyond its walls.

“We are excited that our Foggy Bottom neighbors are dedicating this state-of-the-art building to science and engineering, and that they are doing so in a way designed to encourage multidisciplinary research, which is so critical to solving today’s complex challenges,” National Academy of Sciences President Ralph J. Cicerone said. “Washington, D.C., has a long history of being at the forefront of scientific discovery so it is entirely fitting and appropriate that such a cutting-edge facility be located in the heart of our nation’s capital.”

Among the spaces in the building is a “teaching tower,” made up of 1,000-square-foot teaching labs that are stacked at the center of the building from the third to eighth floors. Enclosed by glass on three sides, the tower includes labs for software engineering, circuitry and robotics. Specialty teaching spaces elsewhere in the building include labs for molecular genetics, biomedical engineering and environmental engineering. Outside of the building, students can connect lessons in instructional labs with real-world research at some of the most important scientific organizations in the nation’s capital, a hallmark of GW’s STEM education. A new career center housed within SEAS on SEH’s second floor ensures that over the next decade, as STEM-related careers increase by 9 million, GW students are well positioned to be leaders in their fields.

In addition to providing space for SEAS and the Columbian College of Arts and Sciences, faculty and students from the Milken Institute School of Public Health and School of Medicine and Health Sciences will also move in as the seventh and eighth floors of the building are completed.

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