Oct 11, 2023

Fall 2023 update on UNI’s Applied Engineering Building renovation

UNI’s Applied Engineering Building (AEB) is currently undergoing an extensive renovation that will have a positive impact on not only the campus community but the entire state of Iowa. The first phase of the renovation is set to be completed by the end of the year, with classes starting in the new AEB in spring 2024. Phase II of the project will be completed by the end of 2024 and in use by students by spring 2025.

These improvements, part of a $44.7 million renovation project, will update and expand the AEB to meet the needs of today’s students and prepare them for success in an Industry 4.0 workforce. The significant increase in square footage from about 64,000 square feet to about 109,000 square feet will allow for more hands-on learning and industry-standard equipment. 

“The renovation adds much needed spaces with updated facilities and room to grow,” said Lisa Riedle, head of the Department of Applied Engineering & Technical Management. “Students will have places to gather and work in teams, collaborate on projects and have ready access to computers, software and equipment.”

Read more: Lisa Riedle, head of the Dept. of Applied Engineering and Technical Management, and Ben Griffen, project manager for the Applied Engineering Building, discuss the progress on the facility.

As part of the AEB modernization, UNI’s Metal Casting Center (MCC) and foundry laboratory are being renovated to incorporate modern automated production equipment that will support all aspects of the casting industry. The metal casting sector represents the core of advanced manufacturing, with more than 90% of durable goods produced in North America beginning with metal casting. Metal casting remains the most versatile metal forming method available and is critical in the fields of energy, transportation, medical, defense and machinery of all types. Recent workforce challenges throughout the manufacturing sector have led to new approaches and the advancement of Industry 4.0 technologies. For example, to meet the need for more technicians and engineers, the casting industry has supplemented workers with automation, robotics, Internet of Things (IoT) and embedded sensors.

Applied Engineering Building in progress

The new foundry laboratory on the UNI campus will be one of the most advanced teaching and research facilities in the world and will provide educational opportunities to advance the industry. Students at UNI will have the opportunity to work with the very technology that will provide resiliency to the metal casting supply chain and provide the basis for manufacturing durable goods in North America. The new foundry will be supported by multiple analytical laboratories and a full process simulation lab where students will work with digital twins, machine learning and big data analysis. The foundry laboratory is scheduled to be completed by the end of January 2024, with the analytical and process simulation laboratories following in the spring.

For the 2024 legislative session, the University of Northern Iowa is requesting $3.85 million in infrastructure funding for the AEB modernization project to recover the cost of the emergency steam tunnel repairs which were redirected from this project.