Construction on the steam plant to prepare lab space for the School of Engineering on North Prince Street will begin in 2020.
Shippensburg University Director of Facilities Management and Planning Adam Roth gave updates regarding the project during a tour with student media leaders of the steam plant and the exterior of Stewart Hall.
Roth said the steam plant will be transformed into “state of the art” lab space for mechanical and civil engineering students, as part of the school of engineering. Engineering students are currently using lab space in the Franklin Science Center and Mathematics Computing Technologies building.
The steam plant was originally used to heat campus buildings through burning coal and remained vacant after the installation of the chilled water plant in 2014, according to Roth.
Roth said SU decided to reuse the building, as the new school of engineering needed lab space. In late 2017, they said “Let’s turn this into something.”
He compared the project to “building a ship in a bottle.”
The structure of the building will remain the same, while the interior will undergo extensive renovations.
According to Roth, the updated building will include labs, conference rooms, manufacturing areas, a fabrication lab and energy efficient LED lighting. SU is the lowest energy consumer in the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education, he added.
The multi-floor building will be ADA accessible and will include a facility manager to ensure safety.
“Our most important value is safety,” Roth said. “Learning comes second.”
Engineers often work at strange hours, so the facility will be open 24/7, Roth noted.
No classes will be given in the steam plant. Roth explained that theories will be taught in the MCT and professors will bring their students to the plant for lab time, similarly to how a chemistry student would spend time in lecture and in the lab.
Construction is slated to begin in January and will conclude in June. Final touches including machine calibration will be completed over the summer and if all goes to plan, students will be able to use the space for the Fall 2020 academic year.
According to SU Media Relations Manager, Megan Silverstrim,, a final budget for the project is a work in progress as SU is still determining the role of industry partners and the positive budget impacts created by the success of the engineering programs.
Silverstrim said SU is making a strategic investment based on future enrollment and growth in a program that will contribute significant revenue to our budget through tuition. The university estimates the mechanical and civil engineering programs will average almost a million dollars in tuition annually for the first five years alone.
Roth said the school of engineering is working on getting local industry partners such as Volvo Construction Equipment to give students more opportunities.
“This is what future students are coming to next year,” Roth said. “Engineering. Right here, right now.”