Celebrating the future "Gateway to Engineering"

Posted: October 24, 2023

On Saturday morning, state officials, university leaders and engineering alumni gathered to formally launch the second and final construction phase of the Biomedical and Materials Engineering Complex (BMEC), known as the Gateway to Engineering.

For decades, Watts Hall and MacQuigg, Koffolt and Fontana Labs stood proudly on The Ohio State University’s north campus, between High Street and Ohio Stadium. In recent years, it became clear that these aging connected structures are not ideally suited to prepare the modern, multidisciplinary engineer. This realization birthed the idea of the Biomedical and Materials Engineering Complex (BMEC), a forward-thinking renovation and reimagining of the Watts, MacQuigg, Fontana and Koffolt footprint.

Collage of four BMEC Phase 2 renderings
Renderings of BMEC Phase Two, The Gateway to Engineering

Phase One of BMEC was completed in summer 2020. Now named Mars G. Fontana Laboratories in honor of the former professor and father of modern corrosion engineering, it brought together the Departments of Biomedical Engineering and Materials Science and Engineering. While Fontana Labs is already making favorable impressions on students, faculty and visitors, Phase Two of BMEC will be transformational, both for Ohio State’s campus and for Buckeye Engineers.

“While we fondly refer to BMEC Phase Two as the Gateway to Engineering, it could also be called the Fountain of Talent,” College of Engineering Dean Ayanna Howard told attendees of the morning event. “There is no question that students who begin their career path in this building will shape our world in meaningful ways. They will lead companies, commercialize new technology, win awards, and solve problems of consequence with ingenuity. And they will proudly maintain the legacy built by thousands of Buckeye Engineers before them.”

Scheduled for completion in late summer 2025, The Gateway to Engineering is where every first-year engineering student will experience the joy of hands-on learning, collaborating and preparing for successful careers. The first and second floor teaching labs are designed for smaller classes, helping students transition from high school to college and enabling more individual interaction from instructors. The spaces also can be reconfigured quickly for what a particular class needs on any given day.

Nearby on the first floor, 5,000 square feet will foster innovation, creativity and collaborative learning as a makerspace, a dedicated environment where students can gather, use the latest technology and bring novel ideas to life.

The Gateway to Engineering’s teaching labs, makerspace and an adjacent patio also will provide ideal environments to host K-12 students from throughout Ohio to participate in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) camps and demonstrations.

Specialized laboratories focusing on emerging technologies will advance research on wearable medical sensors, biomaterials, and computational techniques to discover new materials across a wide range of applications.

John Lindberg, Peter Mohler and Ayanna Howard
(l to r) Knowlton Foundation President John Lindberg, Ohio State Acting President Peter Mohler and Dean Ayanna Howard

“We’re proud to create new science and develop the solutions our communities need now, and we’re even prouder to be training the workforce that will continue to accelerate this progress in the future,” Ohio State University Acting President Peter Mohler shared with guests. “We’re bringing people together from across campus into shared spaces. We’re making it easier for our communities to engage with our experts. And together, we’re finding new ways to push our state forward.”

The $150 million, 248,000 square-foot Biomedical and Materials Engineering Complex is funded through sizeable investments from the State of Ohio and The Ohio State University — and from philanthropic support from our loyal network of alumni, corporate partners, and friends of the college and Buckeye nation. Notably, the Austin E. Knowlton Foundation donated $15 million to finalize design and construction. In prior years, the foundation also has generously supported architecture and aviation programs at Ohio State.

“When the State invests in higher education, we also ask questions,” Ohio Department of Higher Education Senior Vice Chancellor Mike Duffey explained. “’How many more students can we serve?’ ‘How can we attract the best and the brightest?’ When we ask these questions, Governor DeWine always answers yes. At every opportunity, if education can make a difference, he wants to be there.”

State Representative Beth Liston attended the event and Ohio House Minority Leader Allison Russo extended a formal proclamation to celebrate the launch of BMEC Phase Two construction.

Framed Ohio House of Representatives proclamation
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