UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. – When designing the Leonhard Commons, a new study and lounge space within the Leonhard Building located on Penn State University Park’s West Campus, project architects realized that their intended computer station design was not readily available on the market. To fill this space need, four industrial engineering students were selected to help design the new furniture via a four-hour long design charette.
Selected by Ling Rothrock, professor in the Harold and Inge Marcus Department of Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering (IME), the final group consisted of seniors Claire Weiland and Carlos Norman, and juniors Alexa Ferchaw and Dhir Agrawal.
“I felt honored to be selected,” Weiland said. “This experience allowed me to give back to the Penn State industrial engineering community by voicing my opinion, which will last for years to come. I am excited to see what the end result looks like and can’t wait to come back to visit as an alumna once it’s completed.”
Located outside the Factory for Advanced Manufacturing Education (FAME) Lab, the collaborative computing area was intended for groups of three to four students to use complex software on multiple displays while also having access to whiteboard space, a pinup area and paper layout zone.
Chuck Rudalavage, education, civic and culture practice leader for Gensler, an architectural firm, realized that this gap in the market could be a candidate for new product design while providing a learning opportunity for IME students.
“It makes perfect sense to consult the end users, the students, who will derive the most benefit if it meets their needs,” Rudalavage said.
Rothrock hopes that the new configuration of the space will encourage students to visit the building more.
“This was the most fun project that I worked on as interim department head,” said Rothrock. “The Leonhard Building lobby doesn’t feel very student friendly at the moment.”