New SEQ Changes the Face of Stanford Engineering

Posted by at 10:52PM

Artist's rendition of the final SEQ design

Stanford has always been the West Coast’s tech Mecca.  Finally, with the advent of new Science & Engineering Quad (SEQ), we’re actually starting to look like it, too.  A decade in the making, the SEQ has blessed Stanford’s techiest with an appropriately grand tribute to Stanford’s world-renowned School of Engineering as well as the amazing facilities needed to maintain and enhance that reputation.

Why the new SEQ?  According to Dean Plummer (SoE) and representatives from the Stanford Challenge, the massive new facilities will enable engineers to work alongside researchers from a variety of fields to solve “large-scale, systems-oriented problems,” focusing on those in medicine, energy and the environment, and national security.  With four new buildings and impressive underground laboratories, the SEQ has the space and the state-of-the-art resources to make Stanford’s vast interdisciplinary goals a reality.

Here’s a layman’s guide to all that is awesome about the new SEQ!

Huang Engineering Center:

Stanford's new center for all things tech

Weighing in at a whopping 130,000 square feet, Huang Engineering is the centerpiece of the impressive new techie stomping grounds.  Huang is the new home to the SoE administration, the MS&E Department , and the Institute for Computational and Mathematical Engineering, and its high-tech, 300-seat NIVIDIA Auditorium already hosts some of the more popular CS and MS&E lectures on campus.  Huang is physically attached to Y2E2 via a second floor corridor and is also connected to all the other SEQ buildings via various underground labs and tunnels!  Did someone say University-condoned steam-tunneling?!  That’s right, my fellow engineers, we don’t even have to go outside anymore!  Not that I’d personally recommend a subterranean lifestyle, as Huang boasts a series of majestic terraces and trellises with impressive views of the Main Quad.

Infinite corridor? The aesthetically pleasing hallway between Huang and Y2E2. Photo credit: M. Pevzner.

Wandering the squeaky clean hallways, students will also run across the new engineering library, classrooms, a conference center, various work and meeting spaces, machine shops, and a café.  (I hear Ike’s is quite the rage.)  And it’s not your average library, folks: eventually, the University hopes that this library will be entirely bookless!

In the interest of minimizing costs and environmental impact, the new engineering library has 85% fewer books than the Terman Engineering Library.  At face value, this may sound inconvenient, but  the removed material has been digitized for student access on a variety of Kindles throughout the library, and by 2020 all scientific and technical journals in the library’s holdings will be available online.  Perhaps the most exciting thing about the new facilities is that they’re thus far largely unnamed.  That’s right, for a mere $10 million, you can get the naming rights for the library!

Fun fact: Huang also includes a to-scale model of the HP garage, commemorating the simple Palo Alto garage in which Stanford alums Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard launched a little company you might have heard of… Hewlett-Packard.  Just another example of the Stanford entrepreneurial spirit the new Huang Center will help to promote!

Center for Nanoscale Science and Technology:

Ironically, the new 100,000 square foot Nano Center is one of the largest in the world.  (Think about it….) The Nano Center will be the permanent home for 16 core faculty, 160 doctoral students, and 60 other researchers, with hundreds of visiting faculty and students.  Additionally, the Nano Center boasts an extensive network of underground labs, 18 feet deep, that “meet the highest standards for controlling vibration, light, and cleanliness — crucial factors when the object under investigation is magnified 100 million times.”  Whoa!

The lovely view from the SEQ. Photo credit: M. Pevzner.

The Nano Center will complement Stanford’s existing Nanofabrication Facility to enable Stanford researchers to lead the world in nanoscale developments.  A brief laundry list of only some of the impressive new “toys” includes electron-beam lithography tools, advanced focused ion beam machines, 3-axis atomic force microscopes, and aberration-corrected transmission electron microscopes.  To pirate a favorite phrase from EE prof Tom Lee, “if you’re a geek, your geek gland should be secreting madly.”

Sustainability in Action:

The new buildings boast campus highs for water and energy efficiency.  Notice the funky triangular atria gracing the tops of the SEQ behemoths?  During the day, fans in each atrium pull hot air up and out of the building, and at night, the fans pull cool Northern Californian air in for the coming day.  Even the shades on the Nano Center were specifically designed with the sun’s ecliptic in mind.  In the summer, the sun passes highest across the sky, and the slightly lowered shades keep hot direct rays out while allowing light to be reflected in.  In the winter, the shades are high enough to allow warming from the sun as it traces out a lower path in the sky.  Science!!  It works, my friends.

So what’s in it for me?

Nonplussed by beautiful, state-of-the art resources?  Then the following list is for you.  Here’s my personal list of the top ten ways to enjoy the new SEQ without so much as straining your left brain.  Well, at least, not any more than usual.

10.  Get a sandwich at Ike’s.  It’s worth the wait.

9.  Read a book in the bookless engineering library… oh, wait.

8.  Stage a mock corporate meeting in the vast conference room in the octahedron.  To prepare for your future glory days as CEO, of course.

7.  Navigate the intertwining tunnels of the underground labs.

Gazing upwards into the branches of Eywa.

6.  Send your Slinky for a ride down the Hanging Gardens of Babylon-esque stairs in front of Huang.

5.  Collapse on the beanbag in the Blue Atrium of Y2E2 for a quick catnap.

4.  Climb the big tree-in-a-pit between Huang and the Nano Center!  (P.S.: it needs a name.  And I officially nominate “Eywa,” for obvious reasons.  Just sayin’.)

3.  Survey the Main Quad at sunset from one of the third-floor terraces.

2.  Play sardines in the vast, shiny halls of Huang.

1.  Roll down the carefully landscaped and manicured lawn hills.  Dooooo it.  You know you’re actually seven years old at heart.

Die Luft der Freiheit weht.”

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4 Responses to “New SEQ Changes the Face of Stanford Engineering”

  1. kevin says:

    I have to admit, the little lawn hills actually bug me a lot. They’re TOO symmetrical, and there’s the little concrete ring at the bottom for a surprise when rolling down. Even so, I like it more than just open space.

  2. Josh says:

    Am I the only one who thinks the little hills look eerily like some sort of burial mounds? Just throwing it out there.

  3. Charlie says:

    the new quad is really quite amazing. i wandered around in the Huang building today and i was really impressed.

  4. masaru says:

    i’ve been told at least one of the “mounds” is housing an electron microscope underground, because the lab’s ceiling wasn’t high enough for it

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