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Opinion: 70s style is out

Michael Rodriguez: Zachry Engineering Center needs a facelift

Published: Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Updated: Wednesday, July 25, 2012 20:07

Most engineering students, in one way or another, find themselves in the Zachry Engineering Center while at A&M. The structure celebrates its 40th birthday this year, and while it has useful labs, classrooms and department offices, it desperately needs improvement.

“Modifications definitely need to be done to Zachry,” said senior Ankit Wadhwa, who frequented Zachry for electrical engineering classes. “The quality and conditions of the building and its facilities are not up to top-quality standards. A better Zachry leads to better experiments and practical applications which improves the reinforcement of the subject taught.”

People will point out that A&M just added a new engineering building, the Emerging Technologies Building. While this is true, it must be noted that not all engineering students utilize the sparkling-new facilities in this building, located just across the street from aging Zachry. On the other hand, many of the introductory and foundational engineering classes call Zachry home — bringing high traffic into the building every semester. The building is an important commodity for many engineering students.

But what exactly is wrong with Zachry?

“My number one problem with Zachry was always the smell,” said senior industrial engineering major David Dellanebbia. “There is poor ventilation in the bathrooms, so it always smelled a little too steamy inside. Not to mention the sauna on the third floor posing as a group study room.”

As you walk in the main entrance, it seems like the building hasn’t been touched since its opening in 1972. It has a bland, boring feel and an aged interior reflective of ’70s style. Even the couches against the wall in the back of the first floor appear to be 1972 originals.

“The general atmosphere of [Zachry] seems like it’s stuck in the ’70s, but I suppose that could be part of its appeal,” said senior computer science major Sergio Barrio, finding the silver lining for the building’s sad state.

The laboratories in Zachry are by department only. This means that if you are in electrical engineering or computer science, odds are you’re going to be working in the crystal palace lab. No other engineering students — or students of any major who frequent the building — are allowed to use the computer lab. The equipment found in the labs and classrooms is generally outdated and often poorly maintained.

“The building is meant for engineering students and it would be a disservice to have them learn on old equipment,” Barrio said.

The building needs to be a better study area for the students. Having tables just thrown out in the middle of open space on the first floor isn’t an ideal environment. But the problems don’t stop there — the bathrooms are shady, the heating and cooling are inconsistent throughout the year and food options are wanting for such a highly-trafficked center.

I found that I’m not the only one who shares these concerns.

“Improving the rooms, getting new equipment, improving the heating and cooling system are some of the improvements needed,” Wadhwa said. “Improving the couches, getting new doors, having a snack corner like Pi R Squared would be nice. Plus getting a paint job and brightening up the place is needed.”

The Dwight Look College of Engineering is the largest college at Texas A&M with the enrollment at more than 10,500. Zachry is a historic home for many engineering programs, and is deserving of University funds in order to provide engineering students with a state of the art general engineering center.

New buildings are nice, but taking care of existing facilities is a necessity. Zachry has been neglected for too long.

Michael Rodriguez is a senior industrial engineering major

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