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CS News Fall 2011

CS News:
Rice Hall Welcomes Faculty, Students and Staff

Just two years ago, the land where the Rice Hall Information Technology Engineering Building now stands was a parking lot. Now it is home to a building designed from the bottom up to inspire faculty and students to push the boundaries of information technology.

From the start, this was the intention of Paul and Gina Rice, who provided the lead gift for the building through the Rice Family Foundation. They envisioned a hub for information technology engineering at the University. Speaking at the building’s groundbreaking, Paul Rice (EE ’75) emphasized, “We have only really begun to understand the way in which these technologies can enhance human performance and ... improve the human condition.”

Rice Hall is dedicated to moving this understanding forward. In the words of Dean James H. Aylor, “Our goal is to make this building a showcase for the impact that information technology engineering is having on the world.”

Rice Hall does this in a variety of ways. The five-story building highlights the collaboration that is essential for advances in the field. For the first time, computer science and computer engineering faculty will be housed under one roof. There are conference rooms and dedicated collaborative spaces on virtually every floor, as well as a variety of rooms for students to work together on Capstone projects.

Rice Hall is also designed for research and education. Faculty members specializing in graphics, security, high-performance computing, computer architecture, software engineering and other disciplines will have their own lab spaces. The building’s educational laboratories can accommodate twice as many students as previous locations at the Engineering School, enabling faculty to group students into larger teams.

The Rice Hall building itself showcases the societal benefits of computer science. Featuring advanced heating, cooling, lighting and energy recovery systems linked to sophisticated controllers, it will function as a “living laboratory” for smart building research undertaken by faculty, including Computer Science Professor Jack Stankovic, Electrical and Computer Engineering Associate Professor Ron Williams, and Computer Science Assistant Professor Kamin Whitehouse.