The College of Engineering & Mines has big plans for the future, and Harrington Hall’s current renovations are kicking off the first phase of this pioneering effort to offer students education in national security.
The new labs housed in the renovated space, officially known as the National Security Corridor, will open doors for students as the college uses its Department of Defense connections, says Associate Dean of National Security Ryan Adams.
Adams, who formerly served as program manager in the Air Force’s Space and Missiles Center, says that designing and developing the exciting new space has gone smoothly and will grant students and faculty unprecedented access to conduct their research.
New labs send CEM into orbit
A significant component of Harrington’s first-floor renovations will emphasize satellite design and testing, giving students access to equipment such as a thermal vacuum chamber, vibration testing systems and an anechoic test chamber.
On designing the labs, Adams said the department leveraged its connections in defense contracting to ensure students would have access to leading technology that would set them up for success.
“The state Legislature was excited about space-related research,” Adams said. “So, we reached out to a lot of industry folks at Northrop Grumman and some of our alumni who work at defense contractors and asked how we could help prepare students to learn satellite development.”
The new facilities will enable students to work on CubeSats, nanosatellites as small as 4 inches that are used for quantum sensing and space imaging. Adams hopes that engaging students in hands-on satellite development work will prepare them for potential careers in the defense sector.
“A lot of these things are very much on the cutting edge,” Adams said. “Giving the students opportunities to go through the process of building satellites and prepping them for launch will prepare students for the workforce. Companies like Space Dynamics, Northrop Grumman, Blue Origins and SpaceX are all places looking for people with this experience.”
Additionally, the University’s first clean space — a controlled environment vital for performing delicate satellite subassembly operations — will guide satellite research. Adams said the isolated and sanitized environment will play an essential role in providing students and faculty with the necessary resources to complete their research.
These renovations mark an exciting time for the college, Adams said, and he’s confident the space will attract interest from students once everything is complete.
“Students are really excited about this and, once we get things moving, I don’t think we’ll have any trouble getting students engaged,” he said. “We’ve seen success from similar programs on campus like the rocketry club, and once we’re settled in, I think we’ll see a similar kind of trend here.”
Preparing students for an in-demand field
Sharing the National Security Corridor will be Harrington’s digital engineering labs, which, beyond their synergistic application to satellite development, will allow the college to train students for fields with numerous applications in civil engineering and aerospace.
Brian Tande, dean of the College of Engineering & Mines, said that digital engineering is “an approach that’s being increasingly used by the Department of Defense and defense contractors to speed up the development of new satellites and aircraft,” allowing companies to test models affordably and accurately.
Equipped with advanced technology and networking, the digital engineering labs will ready students to meet the demands of this booming field. Adams said that lab features, such as screen walls for online collaborative interactions and flexible cubical space, make the labs versatile enough to meet the evolving demands of education in the field.
CEM pursues new future in defense
As construction continues, Tande said that Harrington’s renovations are a crucial first step in the college’s investment in the field of national security. The restructuring of the labs in the National Security Corridor signifies its commitment to expanding research in exciting new areas.
In addition to the current first-floor construction in Harrington, Tande hopes to one day see the entire building become a hub for national security at UND.
“With the support of the Legislature, alumni and faculty with experience in national security research, these labs will bring in a lot of new research capabilities for our students and faculty,” said Tande. “I’d like to see our college and the University be thought of as a major center for defense-related research and education.”
First-floor renovations are scheduled for completion in early 2024, and the College of Engineering & Mines is looking ahead as they prepare to introduce a new national security curriculum. By embracing technological innovations and preparing students for the challenges of a rapidly evolving field, the college is priming UND to be a leading institution in national security.