New engineering lab dedicated

Portland State’s College of Engineering and Computer Science dedicated a new materials science and engineering research laboratory Friday, April 20. The lab will help expand undergraduate and graduate-level classes on topics in a field that is the basis for manufacturing and testing materials and connectors.

The lab, located at 520 S.W. Hall, will be used by undergraduate and graduate students in the mechanical engineering programs at PSU and the Oregon Graduate Institute (OGI). The lab contains specialized testing systems and the capability to do industrial-scale research previously not possible at PSU.

The materials lab features equipment for testing the fundamental properties of materials, said Sally Cross, development director for the College of Engineering and Computer Science.

“For example, students might do stress analysis on metals to determine the most effective and least expensive welding techniques,” Cross said. “We’re also doing testing involving extremely rapid heating and cooling of metal parts, simulating aircraft parts as they go up and down in altitude. We test the reactions of metals in various simulated environmental conditions.”

The dedication ceremony Friday hosted speakers including Robert Dryden, dean of the College of Engineering and Computer Science, and Steve Pratt, president and CEO of Esco Corporation. The lab will serve as a hub for research between PSU and corporate partners that include Boeing, Esco, Freightliner and Oregon Steel, according to a PSU press release.

The dedication of the materials science lab completes the transfer of the materials science and engineering program from OGI to PSU. An agreement between OGI and PSU announced in March 2000 enabled the complete transfer of the materials science program at OGI to PSU.

The main reason for the transfer was consolidation, according to Cross.”OGI needed to focus their program more, and PSU was already contracting with OGI for faculty members to teach undergraduate classes here,” Cross said. “OGI is also graduate-only, and by moving the program to PSU it allows us to teach both undergraduates and graduates.”

Through the agreement, six OGI faculty members and over $2.8 million of equipment were transferred to PSU’s Mechanical Engineering department.

OGI also provided $200,000 in start-up money to help the transition of OGI faculty to PSU. In addition, PSU provided $500,000 to move equipment and to renovate approximately 4,000 square feet for the lab and program. It is estimated that the program will generate approximately $2 million of funding for research annually.

Most of the funding Cross anticipates will come from the Oregon Metals Initiative, a federal matching program through which private dollars are matched by state funding to further research projects.

The materials science lab is the fifth College of Engineering and Computer Science lab opened or dedicated since January 2000 and is the largest dedicated yet on-campus.