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Inside the walls of the BAE Laboratory, renovation has begun to improve hands-on student engagement. (Photo by Mickinzi Ferguson)

Renovate to Educate

Tuesday, January 2, 2024

Media Contact: Sophia Fahleson | Digital Communications Specialist | 405-744-7063 |

On the corner of Cleveland and Hall of Fame sits a small brick building holding a mystery of what goes on inside its four walls.

These walls create the Biosystems and Agricultural Engineering Laboratory — home to the students focusing on agricultural technology, science and engineering.

The lab provides a space for students to not only begin developing their skill sets in their respective fields but also to create cutting-edge technology for businesses and other university departments.

These students will complete degrees in biosystems engineering and agricultural systems technology. They can choose options in biosystems engineering ranging from machine systems and agricultural engineering to environmental and natural resources.

For their entire college careers, BAE students work inside the laboratory, gaining hands-on experience with large machinery, sensors and instrumentation, biomaterials, and other related equipment.

“That parallels other classes they take in soil science and in engineering in material science,” said Paul Weckler, BAE professor.

However, no class is as hands-on as the senior year capstone class: Senior Engineering Design Project I and II, Weckler said.

“We start in August and work until May,” Weckler said.

Seniors have created projects ranging from robotic pigs to coffee roasters.

“We have a great shop with highly skilled and experienced technicians,” Weckler said. “We can build about one of anything.”

The laboratory is vital for conducting classes and research within BAE and for surrounding departments, Weckler said.

For more than 50 years, the lab has supported a range of projects as well as various teaching, OSU Extension and research activities.

The laboratory has been used mainly for research within the department with only a small teaching space, said John Long, BAE associate professor.

Now, the lab is being remodeled to support the new advances in technology and improve teaching abilities within the lab.

“There were no formal teaching areas,” Long said. “Everything was mainly a research space that would get used sometimes for labs.”

One of the main renovations being made is the relocation and modernization of the welding lab.

“The welding lab hasn’t been upgraded since the 1960s,” Weckler said.

The welding area on the north end of the lab shares space with the large equipment machinery area.

“The welding lab is good for teaching basic welding skills, but it’s not flexible and takes up a lot of usable floor space,” Weckler said.

The new welding laboratory will be located on the south end of the building. This new space will provide students with updated welding and ventilation equipment on wheels, allowing it to be portable.

The BAE laboratory is also a vital source for conducting classes for agricultural education students, who take four classes taught in the BAE research laboratory.

“Every one of these classes has a very hands-on lab experience,” said Nathan Smith, agricultural education instructor and coordinator of student teacher placement.

Along with conducting classes within BAE, Smith serves as an instructor in the OSU Department of Agricultural Education, Communications and Leadership, working closely with the BAE faculty and staff.

“Having that new welding space is going to be really neat for our students because they’re going to be able to use some cutting-edge technology and just have a new, updated and fresh space,” Smith said.

The lecture space is also being upgraded, giving students in agricultural education a cleaner, more accessible learning environment, he said.

The renovations will include new multimedia assets needed for classroom support, like TVs, video cameras and computers, Long said.

This upgraded lecture space will allow for an easier transition from the lecture portion of classes to the hands-on lab portion, Long added.

“It’s nice for the students to come out and have the beginning of lab session if we need to discuss what will be going on, complete any type of paperwork or set up for lab,” Smith added.

With the renovations and improvements of multiple locations in the building, the possibilities for students are endless, Smith said.

“The building renovations are really going to be a breath of fresh air for the students and for me,” Smith said

Story by: Mickinzi Ferguson | Cowboy Journal

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