Professional Engineering Consultants: Experiential Engineering Building

Electrical, power; energy, sustainability; HVAC, mechanical; plumbing, piping.

08/10/2017


Exterior of the building. Courtesy: Professional Engineering ConsultantsEngineering firm: Professional Engineering Consultants

2017 MEP Giants rank: 94

Project: Experiential Engineering Building

Address: Wichita, Kan.

Building type: Educational facility/research facility/laboratory

Project type: New construction

Engineering services: Electrical, power; energy, sustainability; HVAC, mechanical; plumbing, piping

Project timeline: April 2014 to January 2017

MEP/FP budget: $840,000

Corridor in the building. Courtesy: Professional Engineering Consultants

Challenges

The Experiential Engineering Building (EEB) at Wichita State University was designed to move the needle on both engineering and entrepreneurship while supporting new innovations in aviation engineering. The goal in constructing this building was to meet future needs of Wichita's massive aviation industry. 

The university received nearly $2 million in grants to purchase equipment that addressed all four priorities identified by the Investing in Manufacturing Communities Partnership (IMCP) federal task force. Those priorities were:

  • Prototyping facilities with equipment and supporting services that integrate design optimization software including computational fluid dynamics (CFD), cutting technologies, and machining (development, testing, evaluation, and certification.)
  • Materials-based development, testing, and evaluation to support prototyping.
  • Process improvements at both the prototyping and manufacturing stages.
  • Flexible automation.

The makerspace learning area. Courtesy: Professional Engineering Consultants

Additionally, the building included a "makerspace" where entrepreneurs or even hobbyists could pay a subscription for access to a part-manufacturing plant, part-design studio and part-garage workshop. It’s a place where creative people of all ages and skill levels now have access to sophisticated equipment and training, shared work spaces and a supportive community.

Aviation manufacturer Dassault operates a restricted research facility within the building. There is also a Virtual Reality Studio.

Solutions

The biggest challenge of the project was planning for a variety of tenants and processes while adapting to future innovation. Providing a sufficient, flexible, and scalable power supply was the primary goal, in addition to providing sufficient ventilation/tempering/exhaust for the manufacturing space.

Each space had panels/buss ducts to facilitate "plug-and-play" when new equipment was purchased and when multiple machines had to be used in rapid succession. Lighting required intricate control schemes to make the Virtual Reality Studio usable, despite its location within a larger space.

Controls for HVAC were also intricate given the variety of uses and tenants, as well as the heat created in small spaces during the manufacturing process.

The makerspace in the building. Courtesy: Professional Engineering ConsultantsThe lobby from Mezzanine. Courtesy: Professional Engineering Consultants



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