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Coventry Society Visit to Coventry University's Engineering and Computing Building

The Society’s May meeting at Coventry University’s Faculty of Engineering and Computing was a real revelation. One member said: "the visit to this amazing building was like a Disney World tour with some mind blowing concepts at every turn".

For most of us we had only seen the building from the outside. It’s almost like a giant ship with its distinctive hexagonal canopy hoods over south facing windows. Their design provides shade from the heating effect of the sun, so avoiding the expense of cooling the work areas inside.

The interior of the building is something of a revelation. The open spaces on each floor are linked with a huge irregular shaped ‘well’ making it airy and bright. Students obviously enjoy working there as students were busily working at stations on all floors late into the evening.

After coffee at the stylish ground floor cafe we were taken to the top of the building to work our way down to the basement area. Of course the views across the city were captivating and delayed the real start of the tour. There were workspaces, classrooms and glass walled offices. Among the favourite places were the two amazing lecture theatres –one in the round almost like an operating/teaching theatre from generations ago, but with every hi-tech facility. It can seat 232 people. A large drop down acoustic screen can be lowered making it into two separate lecture rooms each with 116 places for an audience.

The other lecture hall was more traditional like a cinema seating 285 people, with a giant screen able to show films and computer games. We were told how students stage football computer tournaments for charities like 'Engineering without Borders'.

Environment control throughout the building is outstanding. Each class room has its own heating/cooling system that thinks for itself but should a window be opened the system senses the new situation and closes itself down so avoiding any energy wastage. Every room and floor is raised on a false floor with the void accommodating the cable runs, heating and cooling pipes. Fresh air is brought into the building heated or cooled then blown into the class room from vents in the floor. An 'energy wheel' retains residual heat that is used to warm incoming air as required.

One computer class room we were shown has a high spec computer system with tables allowing groups of six to take part in the lecture. Computer screens could be raised and lowered at the touch of a button. Lighting in room could be dimmed with a scene setter on the wall.

Importantly the science of acoustics has been used to ensure excellent hearing from every corner of the workspace. They are positioned all over the building, are coloured white, are square in shape in the classrooms and round in the public areas.

The engineering work shop has a Harrier Jump Jet in the middle of it surrounded by flight simulators. This was for the students who are working on aviation based engineering. There is also a wind tunnel used by students engaged in aircraft and car design. Mercedes Racing plays a big part in a partnership with the university with design features used in formula one cars.

There were also cars designed and built by students. A special feature is their small racing car designed to make the most mileage out of a gallon of fuel. Coventry University students came second in last year’s competition with a figure of one thousand miles per gallon.

This wonderful building with it amazing range of features is world class.

It is open to student 24 hours a day and the university will be running summer schools, partnership courses and an on-going research programme with major and local companies.

The Engineering and Computer building and the equipment installed in it was a £50 million investment. What vision and enterprise at the heart of our city.

Special thanks to Doug Fewkes, our guide, who was Project Manager on the building. First class support was provided by one of the Faculty Student reps, Josh Holmes.

See some photos of our visit on our flickr site!

 Photo of Engineering and Computing Building

Reader Comments (1)

I enjoyed this visit, it was amazing that we have such wonderful building in Coventry that most likely people do not know about. We have a first class facility that we should be proud of, and Coventry was built on engineering and its great we still can teach it to the new generation.

By Paul Maddocks on Wednesday, May 22, 2013

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