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The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

Zachry renovation prompts room shuffle

Zachry will undergo massive renovations that are expected to be complete in 2017.
Photo by Tanner Garza
Zachry will undergo massive renovations that are expected to be complete in 2017. Photo by Tanner Garza

With Zachry closing in preparation for renovations scheduled until 2017, the College of Engineering undergoes the task of dispersing its classrooms around campus.
The Zachry renovation will convert the building into the Engineering Education Complex, which will serve as a hub for undergraduate activity and will bring new classrooms, labs and technology. However, the renovation will prevent Zachry spaces from being used until the project’s completion.
Tell Butler, director of engineering facilities, said the move out of Zachry has been an ongoing process since the beginning of the semester.
“People have already started moving to different areas of the campus and to some of the research facilities that are around the perimeter of the main campus,” Butler said. “What we are doing is we are moving over the next few years all of the peer research off of the main campus where the undergraduate studies are available. The peer research will move out to places like the TEA and Research Park and also to the Riverside Campus.”
Butler said the new complex should be ready for classes by spring of 2017, once the building is transformed from its current 325,000 square feet to 630,000.
“It’s a good schedule, we feel like schedule we think that with the method of construction management we are using that the schedule is a very doable schedule,” Butler said.
Prasad Enjeti, associate dean of undergraduate programs in the electrical and chemical engineering department, said the engineering college is looking to experiment with labs on Saturdays to help offset the loss of Zachry and the growing student population.
“In the meetings we have talked about the possibility of some classes with labs on Saturdays,” Enjeti said. “Departments are creating more sections for courses like mechanical engineering and electrical labs and so on. Right now those courses might be having full sections so we are trying to increase sections because the lab is the limiting factor, the lab and the classrooms. They are going to add more sections as we grow. There has been talk of Saturday timeframes for labs, and there is also a study in which electrical engineering is operating like an open lab.”
Enjeti said the engineering department is also creating six new classrooms in the renovated greenhouses on the south side of campus.
Heather Walker, administrative coordinator in the physics and astronomy department, said the Zachry renovation will have a big impact on registration. Walker said classroom scheduling occurs in three phases, beginning with each department assigning their classrooms to various sections based on priority.
Walker said scheduling is interdepartmental during the first two phases and moves to the registrar’s office for the third phase, when departments that do not have enough classrooms to fit their needs are assigned vacant classrooms around campus using a computer program for optimization.
Walker said with Zachry undergoing renovation engineering, will have trouble finding classrooms on campus. Walker said the biggest issues, however, are class times.
“There are times that people like and times that people don’t,” Walker said. “If I schedule two sections, one at eight and one at nine, students are going to rush to the nine o’clock class. It’s just not a popular class time. It’s a lot harder to get class times that everyone is happy with.”
Despite concerns with finding classroom space, Enjeti said the Zachry renovation will not affect class sizes.
“Class sizes are set,” Enjeti said. “Dean Banks has already made a blanket statement to all of the departments — engineering should not be over 100 students. So in engineering classes you will not find anything over 100 students. So that’s being strictly implemented starting spring. That essentially increases the number of sections and each of the departments are aware of it and are planning. That also requires more instructors and so on for some classes. Everyone is aware and are planning and getting additional resources for it.”
Enjeti said the plans for the move have been in development for a long time and the engineering department has a good plan to account for all the issues.
“I know some people are nervous about it, but we have been working on this topic for a long time,” Enjeti said.

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