The nearly $13 million project is an addition to the south of the Gellersen Engineering and Mathematics Center that covers 13,470 square feet, and is made up primarily of laboratory and learning space for undergraduate engineering students. The project also includes a renovation of about 4,300 square feet of existing laboratory facilities. This facility – designed to meet LEED certification standards – opened at the start of the 2011 academic year and was formally dedicated on October 29, 2011.
The new building is named after Donald V. Fites '56 CE, who is the retired chief executive officer and chairman of Caterpillar Inc. and a member of the Valparaiso University Board of Directors. Mr. Fites is one of the CoE's most successful graduates, and is someone many of our engineering alumni and in the University community have come to respect. He has played a significant role in our past fundraising campaign and is a major financial supporter of the CoE. We are proud to honor the legacy of Mr. Fites with this new building.
Supporting Advanced Undergraduate Research
The Fites Center includes two suites of labs – designed to support advanced student research. One suite has labs for Materials Science, Materials Engineering and Structural Engineering. The second suite is the Energy Systems Suite, which includes the Engine Test Cell, Mechanical Measurements Lab, Fluid Mechanics Lab and Small Engines Lab. Caterpillar Inc. has generously donated a high tech engine for a hands-on educational experience.
Senior Design Space: Accelerating the Journey from Student to Professional
One of the College of Engineering’s primary goals is to guide students in their transition from high school students when they enter the program to professionals when they graduate. The Senior Design space is set up to mimic a professional office setting. Each senior student has his or her own work space and their daily routine is much closer to a professional workday than an academic schedule. This environment also fosters collaboration between all three disciplines in the engineering college.