State-of-art building for budding engineers
AUT’S ENGINEERING students will be able to test their theories on the building they work in, now the School of Engineering, Computer and Mathematical Sciences has moved into an NZD120m state- of-the-art building on Symonds and St Paul Streets on AUT’s City Campus today.
At 12 storeys high, the building marks the first time a NZ university has combined engineering with computer and mathematical sciences in one precinct.
The head of the School, Dean of Engineering, Professor Enrico Haemmerle, says a drive for engineering students to have more hands-on experience meant the building was designed to be a living lab.
“The students will be able to test their theories on the building itself. They can use dual air conditioning systems in one room and compare how they perform, they can get a first-hand look at what it takes to make a building like this run by studying the plant rooms and using the building’s BMS system, and that’s just the start.“
Prof. Haemmerle says combining the three subject areas under one roof will mirror the industries students will work in.
“IT experts, engineers and mathematicians work together every day in most major businesses and that’s the way we need to teach. Having all our staff and students under one roof allows for more collaborations, more research and more networking.”
The building, which has taken 2.5 years to build, includes two cafes, exhibition space, a large lecture theatre, collaborative social learning spaces on every level, structure testing lab, experimentation roof, project studios and computer labs.
AUT’s Vice- Chancellor Derek McCormack says the building was needed due to the huge growth in students studying STEM subjects at AUT.
“In 2008 we had just over 1200 students studying toward a degree or post graduate qualification in engineering, computer and mathematical sciences, last year we had more than 3600. Our forecasting shows this growth is set to continue due to government push but also a shortage in these industries in NZ.”
In the past 10 years AUT has also seen a strong rise in the number of female students, under 20s and Pacific students in these subjects as well.
“One of the biggest increases has been the number of students working towards PHD’s in these three subjects. In 2008 there were 69 and in 2017 we had more than 280. This is testament to AUT’s worldclass research and distinguished researchers in this sector.”
Sustainability was a key factor in the building’s design. It will use 101 kilowatt hours (kWH) of energy per square metre (sqm) but AUT plans to reduce this down to 90 over its first year through fine tuning and tweaking. Most commercial buildings use about 200kWh per sqm. The building’s data will be displayed on screens enabling students to see first-hand how the building is performing in terms of energy, water and gas consumption. Rainwater will be recovered from the building and used in labs and LED lights are used throughout with several areas fitted with sensors to turn off lights when spaces aren’t being used. The solar fins on the building’s façade will also allow light to enter the building but exclude direct heat to ease the load on air conditioning systems.
Jasmax, the architecture firm behind the design, say the façade was modelled using high tech environmental design and wind pressure testing.
Lead Architect for the project and Jasmax Principal, Chris Scott, says elements of the inside were also a first for the company and AUT’s vision for a range of flexible and adaptable spaces that create opportunities for new ways of working and interdisciplinary collaboration was exciting.