When I first heard that the Sobrato Campus for Discovery and Innovation was being built in the space of Bannan Engineering, I can’t say that I was thrilled. After I had just gotten used to the routine of things after my Freshman year, construction started right at the beginning of my sophomore year. The news seemed to get worse when we were told that the construction is scheduled to end Fall of 2021, conveniently the quarter after I graduate! So I was definitely not excited about the idea of going without a dedicated engineering building for the majority of my time at Santa Clara. Business students have Lucas Hall, Arts and Sciences have Vari Hall, and as an engineering student, I wanted to have a dedicated location for my school as well.
This is an important factor in my college experience because it allows me to have a space that I can interact, problem solve, and convene with fellow engineers. I believe that a communal learning environment, especially for engineers, is crucial to have because it allows us to be in an environment similar to the workplace, where will we will be working with fellow engineers to collectively critically analyze the problem at hand. As much as I love the holistic learning environment at Santa Clara, I loved having a place where I could find a group of people that had passions similar to mine. I love my friends of a vast array of majors, however, some of them do not understand the struggle of linear algebra. Therefore, I knew we need a building like Lucas and Vari to be an engineering community. Not to mention I was concerned about where my classrooms and lab spaces would be relocated to once construction began, since I was worried that we would just be randomly placed throughout campus.
I had heard that SCU was remodeling the old law library to accommodate engineering students during construction times but I did not have high hopes. Little did I know that I would be beyond pleasantly surprised. Before moving the engineering department and classroom/lab spaces to the new building, the majority of the spaces were remodeled and renovated to be as good as or better than the ones we had previously. In the new engineering building, Bergin and Heafy Halls, we have classrooms with new technology instead of chalkboards, new and improved lab spaces, and my favorite part: a brand new atrium. This atrium has become the heart of the building and has many new features, such as large screens that you can use to project information to groups of students you are working and studying with. Now instead of going to the library, I find myself having late nights in the engineering atrium surrounded by students who I know I can ask questions or for a spare calculator.
The new space for the school of engineering, against my intuition, has fostered a successful learning environment while at the same time being a place for me to socialize with fellow engineers. While I cannot wait to come back to Santa Clara and see the final construction of the engineering quad - even if, sadly, I will be an Alumni, I am more than pleased with Bergin and Heafy as the current home for the school of engineering.
Rafaela is a Student Ambassador at Santa Clara University, class of 2021. Learn more about her and her involvements, along with the rest of our student ambassadors, here.