Building’s groundbreaking ‘nano-leap’ for research

USF’s top officials participated in Friday’s groundbreaking of the Nanotechnology Building I in the College of Engineering and the opening of the renovated Kopp Building.

“We’re very excited about the landscape change at the College of Engineering,” said USF President Judy Genshaft.

Ten gold-colored shovels wrapped in green ribbon adorned a rectangular stretch of land which would later be dug into by Genshaft, Carl Carlucci, chief financial officer and executive vice president of USF, and Interim Provost Renu Khator. Along with representatives from the college, they helped mark the construction of the Nanotechnology Building I, which is slotted for completion in late 2004.

The new 12,000 square-foot Nanotechnology Building will be located just northwest of the Kopp Building and offer 1,200 square feet of office space, 3,000 square feet of service facilities and 8,800 square feet of laboratories, which will be open to specialty researchers from all areas, said Louis Martin-Vega, dean of the College of Engineering.

“We’re matching talented people with first-class facilities,” said Al Schiff, chairman of the Engineering Advisory Board.

A key factor of the new building will integrate engineering with various other disciplines.

“The Nanotechnology Building will strive to unite multiple disciplines at USF and show our commitment to cutting-edge research to the world,” Martin-Vega said.

Influenced by the morning’s festivities, Martin-Vega said the groundbreaking was a “nano-step” for mankind. He hopes that opening up the new area of research in nanotechnology will enable USF to become a research leader worldwide.

Martin-Vega said this was an especially significant groundbreaking. He pointed out an audience member who was wearing a special shovel pin handed down by her mother, who had received it from the first dean of the College, Edgar Kopp Jr., in commemoration of the groundbreaking of the Kopp Building in 1967. The Kopp Building will always play a big role in the life of the college, he said, and the renovation will contribute to the role it plays in the future.

“Today is not only symbolic of the college’s history, but also of the future of engineering,” Martin-Vega said.

The Kopp Building renovation has modernized 44,000 net assignable square feet of classrooms and office space. According to Facilities Planning and Construction, much of the renovation focused on bringing the Heating Ventilation Air Conditioning (HVAC), electrical and plumbing systems up to code.

Schiff, who corrected Martin-Vega’s “nano-step” to “nano-leap,” said the College wants to help influence the future.

“This is an opportunity to make a difference,” Schiff said. “We’re taking USF’s College of Engineering to be one of the best engineering schools in the nation.”