Donald P. Shiley Hall dedicated

By The Beacon | October 14, 2009 9:00pm

The engineering building receives an update and blessing

By Ona Golonka

Sixty-one years ago, a brand-new, gleaming engineering building stood proudly on The Bluff.

Sixty-one years later, a revamped, revitalized and renamed gleaming engineering building once again stands proudly.

On Oct.15, the Engineering Building, now formally re-named Donald P. Shiley Hall, was dedicated and blessed in light of its recent $21.1 million renovation and expansion.

Spurred by the thoughts and efforts of Brother Godfrey Vassallo, C.S.C., and his student Howard Vollum, the University constructed the Engineering Building in 1948 for a mere $453,300.

The Engineering Building housed the beginnings of UP's Engineering School. Throughout the years, however, it was no longer able to keep pace with its faculty, students and technology.

During the 50th year anniversary of the Engineering School, a list of goals was prepared. One was to create a building worthy of the student body, staff and modern curriculum.

Electrical engineering sophomore Caroline Nakaye remembers the problems the Engineering Building had before the renovation.

"It had only one girls bathroom on the second floor and only two boys' bathrooms on the first and third floors," Nakaye said.

"There was no wheelchair access," she said. "One of my friends had dislocated her leg and couldn't come into the building to build a robot for a freshmen design project in a first year engineering class."

In contrast, the revamped building includes men's and women's bathrooms on all floors, as well as wheelchair access.

Nakaye especially adores the study rooms. There are three white boards in every study room, a reading table for group discussions and couches on each end.

"The study rooms actually make you feel like studying," Nakaye said.

Engineering students can thank Donald and Darlene Shiley, along with Ed and Sharon Sweo, who contributed millions to the expansion and renovation of Shiley Hall.

UP alum Donald Shiley graduated first in his engineering class in 1951. Later , he invented two revolutionary heart valves - the Kaye-Shiley and the Bjork-Shiley tilting disk valves.

After graduating from UP in 1956, Ed Sweo founded two companies: Sweo Engineering and Sweo Controls. His devices connect to software applications, electrical and telecommunication systems and office buildings.

The new building their donations funded is not only more functional and comfortable. It's environmentally-friendly.

Shiley Hall received a significant environmental seal of approval, a LEED Gold certification.

The process for obtaining LEED certification involves many aspects of the construction process, including the reusability of the materials used for construction, the water efficiency, the types of paints, carpets and wood used, the efficiency of the cooling system and energy use, according to environmental studies professor Steve Kolmes.

The disposal of construction waste is also taken into account. Another environmentally-friendly factor: vast windows, which cut down on electricity needs.

"Natural lighting is used as much as possible," said engineering professor James Male.

Additionally, Shiley Hall has motion-sensored occupancy lights, which turn off automatically if a room is empty. There are carbon dioxide monitors in the classrooms, to observe the amount of airflow. Automatic air vents promote fresh air into the building, especially in the evening hours.

"It allows cool air to come into the building, natural cool air just like in a house," Male said.

Another aspect of the cooling system includes coils, which are located in the concrete. Cold water pumped from the underground well at Buckley Center runs through the coils, keeping the Shiley Hall gallery cool.

According to Male, these cooling concrete coils also serve an educational purpose for engineering students, especially mechanical engineers. They would be able to point out differences of concrete walls with and without coils running in them.

A green roof, a rain garden and a bioswale represent the environmentally-friendly aspects outside of the building.

A rain garden allows water that would previously overload a sewer to be absorbed into the ground. A bioswale is designed to remove pollution from surface-water runoff. These three aspects are all located on the SW corner of the building.

During the dedication ceremony, University of Portland Provost Brother Donald Strabrowski, C.S.C., said the engineering building firmly anchors the teaching and learning of engineering and computer science as two integral academic aspects of the University.

"This is a day we've long hoped for," Strabrowski said.

The revitalized Shiely Hall boasts a more conducive work environment, according to computer science sophomore Trever Hickey.

Similar to Nakaye, he enjoys the study rooms, along with the new computer labs and lab rooms. He likes how the rooms in Shiley Hall are subdivided into one specific task, such as lab rooms and lecture rooms.

"The Lab rooms are more individualized work spaces, instead of being just tables with nothing there for you," Hickey said.

Now, there are power outlets, shelves and additional chairs. , he said. "Now, there is a better work environment to actually get work done."

At the dedication, Darlene Shiley thanked the University for honoring her husband, who was unable to attend the ceremony due to health reasons, Speaking of her husband during the dedication, Darlene Shiley said he would be proud of the building that now has his name on it.

"I wanted it to reflect the ethics, wisdom and quietude of Donald," Shiley said.

She concluded her speech with a personal quote from Donald himself, directing it at students.

"Find your passion, find what your good at, embrace it and do it," Shiley said.