CSUN’s Physical Plant Management and equipment technicians from the Science ‘ Math Science Shop turned several rooms in the basement of Eucalyptus Hall into research labs to better accommodate two new faculty members from the science department.
“The project is important to the university because these are esteemed professors that are coming to the school and we wanted to create functional high-tech space for them. We are one of very few campuses that will take on these projects,” said PPM Executive Director Tom Brown. “The design architects communicated with the professors. We needed to know what kind of facilities the research faculty needed and what their special needs are.”
Brown said the project required the rooms, which were originally built in the early 1960s, to be entirely gutted and reconstructed.
“Architects did an estimate for $1 million for the project, but we looked at it closely and saved them a quarter of a million dollars. The entire project took about $720,000 to $750,000 to complete,” Brown said.
After the research labs were completed, the technicians came in and built cabinets and steel racks for the equipment, Brown said. The technicians who built these additions were Richard Spengel, Myron Hawthorne and Robert Rojas.
“We work with the professors intimately to fulfill their needs in that space,” Spengel said.
One of the research labs, which is used by physics and astronomy professor Hendrik Postma, has a cleansing room to ensure that dust and particles don’t contaminate experiments.
Although the cleansing room still needs to be certified before it’s used, it has highly efficient filters that will provide a smooth airflow, Brown said.
“This room is for nanotech research, so there needs to be filters to clean the room and control things like pressure and humidity. There are also three fume hoods that hold purified water,” Brown said.
Since the cleansing room’s filters must be on at all times, Spengel said that PPM has a trailer for backup in case the power should go out. The room also has a conductive floor, which is glued onto the concrete with conductive glue, to make sure that static doesn’t interfere with the research, he said.
The research labs that are still under construction will hold minus 80 freezers and incubators with heat, Spengel said. Moreover, Spengel said there would be four flumes in one of the rooms, which is a machine oceanographers usually use to measures water motion.
“Making these flumes is one of the biggest projects we have ever worked on,” Spengel said.
Another research lab, which is used by chemistry professor Jussi Eloranta, has a worktable that holds the super cooling helium, which measures helium in a liquid state.
“There are threaded holes in the table so that the researchers can move around their experiments to different configurations,” Spengel said.
Eloranta, who taught at the University of Jyvaskyla in Finland from 2002 to 2006, and his assistants have worked in the new research labs since this summer.
“The research labs are great. It’s challenging for students because it’s more hands-on and the experience they get is broader than a student lab. It’s also a good indication when the students have free time and want to come back,” Eloranta said.
Eloranta also said the university he worked for in Finland didn’t provide him with this type of research lab because of limited funding.
“The university (in Finland) told me that I didn’t need it. I had to find surplus equipment myself,” he said.
Brown said these research labs are part of a two-phase project for the Eucalyptus Hall basement. The first phase, which rebuilt classrooms in the basement, was completed last year.
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