Talbot Lab Renovation Means More Lab Space for NPRE
8/29/2014 3:19:00 PM
A $3.2 million project for renovating the Talbot Laboratory building will include a major upgrade and expansion of instructional laboratories for NPRE.
In particular, NPRE will enhance students’ educational opportunities at Illinois with a new Radiation Measurements Instructional Laboratory, new Fluids Laboratory, and a new Nuclear Materials Laboratory.
“This additional space will allow us to transform our undergraduate teaching experience to include much more hands-on educational opportunities,” said Department Head Jim Stubbins. “This will include an expansion of the radiation measurements experimental opportunities, and allow us to re-establish a much stronger effort in fluids and heat transfer for nuclear systems and in nuclear materials.
“We also feel that this will allow us to complement our major lecture courses with a much stronger experimental background,” Stubbins continued. “Some of this space will allow us to expand areas of our research efforts. This, again, will have a major impact on both our undergraduate and graduate programs.”
According to the plan, NPRE will claim 2,100 square feet on the building’s first floor for the instructional laboratories.
The new space is in the center of Talbot Laboratory. It also is directly adjacent to the recently remodeled Virtual Education and Research Laboratory (VERL) that contains Prof. Rizwan Uddin’s VisBox, a state-of-the-art, 3-D visualization system. This proximity will allow NPRE to more closely integrate the power of the virtual learning techniques with direct hands-on experiments.
“We foresee that this combination will provide a unique instructional environment where concepts can be experienced in both virtual and real space to provide a more comprehensive understanding of the underlying principles,” Stubbins said.
NPRE plans to expand the student computer facilities in conjunction with lab development to provide a better coordination between the experimental and (computer) analysis functions of both the Radiation Measurements and the Nuclear Materials labs.
Construction, which requires the removal of the Mechanical Testing Facility (MTF) 3-million-lb. press that starts from the building’s basement and rises three floors, could start next summer. Once the space is cleared, the construction should proceed rapidly so that the new lab space could be available in 1½-2 years.
The renovation was one of four College of Engineering at Illinois projects picked for the University of Illinois Urbana Campus Facilities Matching Funds Program. The campus, the College of Engineering, NPRE, and the Department of Aerospace Engineering that is also housed in the building and will also gain instructional laboratories, will share the project’s costs.
The Radiation Measurements lab, taking up half the available space, will support NPRE radiological students as well as a growing number of students and interactions in the areas of nuclear medical imaging and nuclear medicine therapeutic technologies.
The space would house the facilities for NPRE 444, Nuclear Analytical Methods Lab. That course currently has no assigned laboratory space, although the course is required for NPRE students in the radiological degree path and is an open elective for other students. Bioengineering students interested in these technologies are likely to participate in the course. Also expected to participate are a growing number of graduate students who use the course as a basis for advanced research in the areas of radiation detection with applications in homeland security and medical imaging.
The Nuclear Materials Laboratory, taking up the remaining NPRE space in the renovation, would complement the Materials Properties Instructional Laboratory on Talbot’s second floor. The new materials lab also would provide significant instructional space for developing new materials with irradiation resistance and advanced mechanical properties. The new lab would furthermore concentrate on testing and analysis facilities that would not be available elsewhere in the college.