This Old Facility: College adds on, spruces up, and moves in
Each day she takes a step, and then another and another. At the end of the journey there will be both new and remodeled state-of-the-art buildings, the Seamans Center for Engineering Arts and Sciences. Theyll include 50 percent more lab space than the college had in the past, a two-story space with team-study modules for students, and 500 linear feet of isoductdouble-channeled flat conduitcreating a series of data ports in classrooms and lounges.
But in between there are thousands, possibly millions of steps to be taken, and in large measure one has to occur before the next can.
"Its the domino effect," says Heeren, the College of Engineerings building coordinator. Shes referring to the way that building materials must be available before workers can finish construction, so that custodians can clean, so that furniture can be delivered, so that an office can be occupied. If one step is delayed, it can jeopardize the entire chain of events, and things get backed up all over the building.
To keep things moving, Heeren, who often sports a hard hat, moves through the construction site at lightening speed, up stairs, down corridors, inside and out. And just as she sits down, and gets to not move for a minute or two, someone comes through the door asking for the key for a new office, or someone else calls and tells her that a piece of laboratory equipment being transported from the Chemistry Building wont fit through the door of the new building. She jumps up and goes to the office, the moving van, the new lab. On the way she piles moving boxes onto a dolly and carts them outside, through a maze of extension cords and plastic sheeting, for recycling.
"My job is to interface the functions of scheduling and moving with the buildings users, architects, Design and Construction Services, and the contractors," Heeren says. Offices and labs began moving in June and continued throughout the summer.
As she moves from place to place, she never stops chattingHeeren banters with the workers in the elevators ("You guys are way too happy for a Wednesday"), the professor lodged temporarily in a conference room, the movers who are carting equipment into the building. She seems to know everyones names, where their office was, where it will be, and where they might be housed in between. And while shes self-effacing when complimented on her organizational skills, she says she knows one thing that helps get it all done.
"The trick is to get people to willingly do things," she says. "I learned my leaderships skills from the military."
Heeren spent 13 months doing similar work for the Army. In that time she oversaw the construction of two buildings and the remodeling of 23.
"But this is the most complex and biggest job Ill ever work on," she says.
Heeren came on board in 1996, just before the project went out for bids, and shell be on the job until its completed in the summer of 2001.
Its work thats far from stress-free. In mid-July, when this interview was conducted, the fact that students would be attending classes in the Seamans Center in a months time was daunting.
But she says there is pleasure in the small steps, as well as seeing the project completed.
"Engineering alumni are a tightly knit group with a real affection for the college and its people and professors. We took them on a tour during the spring reunion and it was great to see how proud they are," she says. "We have one 91 grad who comes back every six months to check on progress."
And what about the colleges faculty and staff, many of whom will have moved multiple times before construction is complete?
"It doesnt take people long to adapt to their new spaces, and then theyll say things like, My office is so much quieter now than with a window air conditioner, " Heeren says. "When people appreciate the little things like that, it makes you feel good."
Article by Linzee Kull McCray