University of Nebraska–Lincoln College of Engineering Phase I

UNL College of Engineering Exterior Rendering
Renderings provided by RDG Planning & Design



Project Name
University of Nebraska–Lincoln College of Engineering Phase I

297,000 GSF

Market Sector Details
Higher Education Facility in Omaha, NE

University of Nebraska–Lincoln

RDG Planning & Design, HOK

The Future of Engineering

Providing a space to learn, grow, and advance the future of engineering with a leading-edge facility is a rare and wonderful opportunity for any engineering firm. Alvine Engineering had the exceptional opportunity to work on an engineering facility that is an alma mater for many of our firm’s professionals. The Scott Engineering Center, part of the University of Nebraska–Lincoln’s (UNL) College of Engineering, received a renovation and addition. A new front entrance greets students and visitors, and a new 90,000 GSF laboratory addition houses the Laser, Bioscience, Material Science, and Computational Research labs. Finally, the renovation of the Scott Engineering Center and the construction of a new connecting link structure (referred to as “the Link”) brought updates to the Civil, Chemical, and Electrical Engineering departments, offices, learning spaces, and labs.

Our firm’s role on the project was to provide building system updates to the renovated and newly added spaces while ensuring that the systems were meeting current building and energy codes.

“It’s rewarding to use our experience and knowledge to help design a building that future generations of engineers will use to learn and grow,” Gene Neemann explained, “It’s inspiring to design a facility that will carry the torch for the future of engineering.”

Gene Neemann is an associate principal and a leader of our electrical team who has been with Alvine Engineering for more than 40 years. His resume and extensive experience were vital to the successful execution of the project.

UNL College of Engineering Exterior Rendering Closeup

“It takes me back to when I was a student,” Reggie Wittgren stated, “I remember being excited to get out into the field…it’s our hope that this facility will elicit those same emotions for future student engineers.”

Reggie Wittgren was a leading mechanical designer on the UNL College of Engineering renovation who also brought unmatched experience to the project. Reggie has been designing mechanical systems for Alvine Engineering for the past 18 years.

UNL College of Engineering Exterior Rendering Closeup 2

A Major Overhaul

The electrical systems for the Scott Engineering Center and the Link are an extension of the University’s medium voltage distribution system. All of the new and renovated areas received LED lighting and updated power distribution that can handle the taxing demand of lab facility work, powerful computers, and research equipment.

“All of the power distribution that went into the building was brand new,” Gene explained, “The older connecting link had served its purpose, so it was completely torn down and a new link was built from the ground up. The Scott Engineering Center is a complete renovation on the inside.”

On the mechanical systems, a new penthouse was installed in the Link that services both the connecting link and the Scott Engineering Center. A new, two-story mechanical tower houses air handling units that service both facilities. Within the Link, air handling units that serve the lab spaces have heat recovery units that transfer heat from fume hood exhaust air back to the unit heating coil to capture its energy.

“We had to do something less traditional for the HVAC in these spaces, so we couldn’t use a typical energy recovery unit,” Reggie explained, “We wanted to avoid cross-contamination between the lab exhaust air and the fresh air.”

Staying Educated

The renovation construction was carefully considered and phased in order for students to be able to continue their studies without disruption. This required the project team to keep portions of the building operational while students carried out their classes. While coordinating construction in an occupied building can be challenging, our experience working with UNL, the architect, and the contractor aided in streamlining the collaboration process.

“Creating new utility shafts through an existing concrete building isn’t easy,” Gene said, “We’ve had to do a lot of site visits to coordinate unforeseen construction conditions that were discovered through tearing open walls and ceilings.”

In addition to fielding the unexpected obstacles encountered throughout the renovation, the client was constantly updated and refined their vision for various areas and adapting to new research requests, which has equated to changes in the design. Coordinating multiple revisions and designs of certain spaces can make it difficult for project teams to keep track of the latest changes. Fortunately, our firm’s organizational workflows and constant communication keeps our technical staff updated despite the influx of revisions.

“We had all of our team members on their A-game,” Reggie stated, “which was especially important as there were areas of the basement that were dedicated to the University’s IT infrastructure that serviced a large part of the campus. We couldn’t touch those areas. In addition, trying to convert non-lab areas into lab spaces takes a lot of coordination with all of their requirements as well.”

UNL College of Engineering Exterior Rendering Closeup 3

Onward and Upward   

The research and work conducted within the UNL College of Engineering is vital to the growth and progression of the engineering industry in Nebraska. The work being conducted within the newly renovated facility generates valuable intellectual data that has the power to create new jobs, generate companies, and usher in the evolution of the industry.

Aiding the University’s efforts to reconfigure its learning spaces to support modern teaching and research has served as a wonderful opportunity for our firm. Investing in our knowledge and services to provide for the next generation of engineers strikes a heartfelt chord with our team: we’re passionate about giving back to the future generations of engineers.

UNL College of Engineering Exterior Rendering 2
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