May 2007

Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Laboratory:
Smart and Good-looking

Some of our longtime campus inhabitants like to describe UT Dallas’ location as “deep in the smart of Texas.” Who can blame them? Our freshmen boast the highest average entering SAT score in Texas; our faculty includes a Nobel laureate, grant-winning researchers and outstanding teachers; our alumni include an astronaut, founders of profitable nanotech companies and—according to the American Society for Engineering Education survey data—more women graduates in the computer sciences than any other university in the nation.

UT Dallas prides itself on intellectual firepower, as rightfully it should. But I had never heard us called “beautiful” until recent news reports about our newest research facility. The Natural Science and Engineering Research Laboratory, known as NSERL, has been under construction for the past 24 months and was completed late last year. (The formal dedication will take place on June 5. Watch the University homepage for more information.)


Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Laboratory

The facility is revolutionary in form and function— a structure virtually without peer among U.S. scientific laboratories. To our knowledge, it is the first such building to incorporate large, open spaces with specialty labs and linear equipment rooms.

NSERL is designed to promote interdisciplinary, collaborative research among scientists from such disparate fields as chemistry, biology, physics, electrical engineering, materials science and brain science.

The four-story, 192,000-square-foot facility cost $85 million to build. Furnishing one lab—the Nanoelectronics Materials Laboratory, where sophisticated materials research is conducted—cost approximately $3 million more.

NSERL can accommodate 350 faculty, graduate students and post-doctoral researchers. One-third of the building is reserved for the top-notch faculty members and researchers we expect to bring to UT Dallas—an important component in the drive to Tier One. The building includes space for start-ups that are expected to spring from research efforts.

NSERL promises to transform the UT Dallas community’s approach to science, and perhaps, its level of self-regard as to appearance as well. We didn’t set out to build a glamour location, but, like a jewel, the building sparkles—literally. A portion of its exterior is anodized stainless steel reflecting a stunning range of colors that change in light and shadow. Its striking design has put NSERL on the map in the State of Texas, and, I’m delighted to report, made it a favored spot for wedding photographs of young alumni. Requests for access this spring were so numerous that our communications office quickly developed guidelines for the many visitors who were requesting entry to what is actually a controlled access space.

The completion of NSERL is only the latest effort to upgrade our campus and our capabilities, and by no means the last. The next major addition will likely be a $27 million facility that will be home for practice-based research on teaching and learning in math, science and engineering at K-12 and college levels. There are also new student housing and dining complexes on the drawing board. When those facilities open we expect they will live up to their location “deep in the smart of Texas” (and, be pretty good-looking, too).

About This Newsletter

The President's Viewpoint is a periodic newsletter distributed to a select group of alumni, friends, faculty and staff. It comes from the desk of Dr. David E. Daniel, President of The University of Texas at Dallas, and provides the ultimate insider’s view on the news and concerns of the university.