Greenberg Engineering Teaching Concourse Creating "The Feeling of Community"

President Peter Salovey and School of Engineering and Applied Science (SEAS) Dean T. Kyle Vanderlick were among those on hand to dedicate the new Linda and Glenn H. Greenberg Engineering Teaching Concourse. 

Located in the center of Yale’s engineering campus, the teaching space includes six new undergraduate teaching labs, along with two wet labs with hoods. The project, funded with a $10 million donation from Glenn Greenberg ‘68, brings together labs from all disciplines in engineering – currently scattered over four buildings – into one space. Linda and Glenn Greenberg were in attendance, as were J. Robert Mann and his wife, Barbara Mann, who donated money for the lab's equipment.

Salovey told the crowd inside the labs that the new teaching space is one more example of Yale’s commitment to investing in cutting-edge science, engineering and innovation. Creating a sense of community is a key part of any successful education, he said, and teaching areas like the Greenberg Concourse can help achieve that.

“It’s spaces like this where I know that students are going to be working at all hours and where our faculty will be teaching at all hours,” he said. “And that creates the feeling of being part of a community.”

The concourse is set beneath Becton Plaza and physically links the Becton Engineering and Applied Science Center, Dunham Laboratory, and the planned Tsai Center for Innovative Thinking at Yale (Tsai CITY). It also links to Computer Science in Arthur K. Watson Hall, making a literal and figurative connection to the department that joined SEAS in 2015. 

Vanderlick touted the fact that the labs can be readily adapted for different courses.

“Experiments can be wheeled out and prepped for a given semester, and then wheeled back in so that a different group of students can use the facility,” she said. “At other schools of engineering, if the chemical engineering lab was in the fall, then the place sits dormant in the spring. That will never happen here - we’ll be able to use all this space for any group at any time.”

In addition to existing equipment from current labs, the new labs have been outfitted with plenty of new state-of-the-art equipment and computers. The space also has collapsible walls that allow labs with a 24-student capacity to triple in size. The stark contrast between the expansive, brightly lit new space and its previous incarnation was noted a few times at the dedication. Used only as electrical engineering labs, the earlier space was dimly lit, cramped and isolated.

“It was a transformation from something that was underutilized and poorly thought out,” Salovey said. “When Kyle first walked me through the before space, it was really hard for me to imagine how this was going to work. I have to say - walking through it now - wow, it’s amazing.” 

He credited Vanderlick and the Greenbergs for having the vision to imagine such a transformation. For her part, Vandlick said it was the work of many. She singled out in particular the efforts of SEAS Deputy Dean Vincent Wilczynski, who headed up the project.

“This is why you need a military man - Vince was the dean of engineering at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy – to run a project like this," she said. "Because it got done on time." 

Salovey said the quality and visibility of the space will help draw more students to the field.

“Students will come down here, and they may take a course as a sampler or they’ll hear about the equipment and want to look at it,” he said. “Or they’ll see it and get intrigued as they wonder what’s happening here. Then they get exposed to great teaching – suddenly, they’re engineers.”