Earth, Energy and Environment Center to connect students, campus across disciplines

Posted on Jan 25, 2018 in Campus News and News

EEEC Earth, Energy and Environment Center entrance

The newest major addition to the University of Kansas campus connects the department of geology with the School of Engineering, the Central District with the North District, and today’s students with their careers of tomorrow.

The Earth, Energy, & Environment Center, or EEEC, is composed of two new buildings, Slawson Hall and Ritchie Hall. We took a tour of the new buildings to see how a fully integrated building provides new strategies for education. Dr. Robert Goldstein, associate dean for natural sciences and mathematics and special adviser for campus development, led our trip though the new facility.

EEEC Earth, Energy and Environment Center mosasaur

The tour began in Slawson Hall, with a large atrium at the corner of Hoch Auditoria and Naismith. Visitors are greeted with the sight of a 45-foot-long sea monster—the Tylosaurus fossil replica—a mosasaur that lived where Kansas is today.

EEEC Earth, Energy and Environment Center study area

“Wherever there’s a little spot, a little niche available, we put in carpet and comfy chairs for students and faculty to use. We want to make sure students hang out and study here.”

EEEC Earth, Energy and Environment Center core layout room

“This is the core layout room. We store our samples of rock core from the subsurface here. We use the tables with skate wheels to move boxes of rocks around to study them under white lights and UV lights.”

EEEC Earth, Energy and Environment Center engaged learning room

“This is the engaged learning classroom. 18 80″ monitors, two big screens, whiteboards all the way around. 18 tables, each with their own ELMO video presenter and microphones. It promotes engaged learning where the students are busy working on projects, and the professor’s podium is in the middle of the room, not the end of the room. They’re the coach, just circulating around helping students.”

EEEC Earth, Energy and Environment Center

“Check out the pattern on the side of the building. It’s limestone at the bottom, terra cotta above. We went with different types of terra cotta panels to give it a more dynamic appearance. Rather than a random patchwork of panels, we decided on taking the geologic cross-section of Kansas, right down to Mount Oread, and use that as the inspiration of the patterns by superimposing it on the side of the building.”

EEEC Earth, Energy and Environment Center labs

“It’s truly interdisciplinary, it’s at that intersection of earth, energy, and environment. We’ve got engineers and scientists under the same roof. We have paleontologists studying particles of organic matter trapped in 3 billion year old rocks, with an environmentalist studying contaminated ground water next door.”

EEEC Earth, Energy and Environment Center seating area

“We just opened, and students are immediately finding these comfortable places… You’ll find faculty members sitting and grading papers here instead of in their offices because it’s so nice.”

EEEC Earth, Energy and Environment Center

“Having a lot of light that comes in helps visibility everywhere. We get natural light both in the hallways, and in the labs and offices. We added transparency, so if you’re standing in the hallway, you can see into the labs and they can see you, and that’s designed to promote interaction. That’s what a modern building can do for you.”

For an expanded look at our tour, check out our Flickr album. More coverage, including videos, of the Earth, Energy and Environment Center is available here.


-Ryan Camenzind

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KU geologist who discovered fault line in Himalayas shares insight on earthquake

Posted on Apr 25, 2015 in Campus News and News

A deadly earthquake rocked Nepal on Saturday, and according to Nepal’s National Emergency Operations Center, the death toll has topped 1,400. In issue No. 5, 2014, of Kansas Alumni magazine, associate editor Chris Lazzarino wrote about research by Mike Taylor, associate professor of geology, and his colleagues that identified a previously unknown and active fault line in the Himalayas. Professor Taylor provided an update this morning.

The epicenter of today’s 7.9 earthquake was about 40 miles north-northwest of Kathmandu and “definitely related” to the northward push of India. Essentially, that’s the plate movements and fault structure that had been previously known.

Taylor does not yet know whether or not the earthquake is also related to the previously unknown east-west movement of the western Himalayas that he and his colleagues identified last year, as described in the previous story in Kansas Alumni magazine.

He said this quake was a “low-angle structure” with displacements directed north-south. “The peak ground accelerations were in and around Kathmandu,” Taylor said, noting that the devastation was made worse by Kathmandu’s “very poor infrastructure.”

Taylor is already writing a rapid-response grant proposal to the U.S. National Science Foundation and is looking for KU Department of Geology funds, in hopes of flying to Nepal for field work within a matter of weeks.

“7.9 is a really big earthquake, and it had a devastating effect,” Taylor said. “The estimates for people who have died will unfortunately probably climb rapidly.”

—Chris Lazzarino

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