Gannon University Opens New Center For Advanced Engineering

CAE OpeningPosted: September 21, 2015

A venerable downtown Erie building became the launchpad for research and application of advanced technology when Gannon University dedicated a new Center for Advanced Engineering (CAE), on Monday September. The building is located at 130 W. Eighth St.

The academic building will house three growing programs: mechanical engineering, biomedical engineering and a new industrial engineering program.

In addition to classrooms and offices, the CAE houses the biomedical engineering and industrial engineering laboratories, which are equipped with cutting-edge technology used for teaching and research.

The biomedical engineering laboratory includes robotic devices such as a KINARM two-joint planar manipulator that uses virtual reality technology that allows student engineers to simulate different levels of muscle impairment and to perceive the movement and forces of virtual joints and muscles as a tool to develop biomechanical devices.

Also installed in the biomedical engineering laboratory are motion-tracking and gait-analysis systems that can track the movements of a research subject, and through computer simulation, estimate the force of different muscles are based on the movement that are recorded. This is essentially the same technology used by Hollywood studios in films such as "Avatar" to capture the movements of live actors to produce lifelike animated characters.

The Industrial Engineering Laboratory is being developed with equipment focusing principally on ergonomics and work design. Mobile, reconfigurable systems allow faculty to customize the space to the needs of specific laboratory exercises and research.

"Integration of knowledge and techniques is driving innovation-the kind of innovation that engineers create," said W.L. Scheller II, Ph.D., dean of Gannon's College of Engineering and Business. "The Center for Advanced Engineering is also a center of advanced thinking and technology. It's a model for the kind of collaboration and resource-sharing that will ensure success in the future."

The 33,000-square foot structure was built in 1925 as the YWCA. Later it became the Boys and Girls Club, which was its use when Gannon University purchased it in 2001. When the building was renovated in 2008, wood from the gym floor was repurposed to build the entrance walls and reception counter.

When the Erie Technology Incubator (ETI), and the startup companies it mentors, moved to the new Center for Business Ingenuity in the spring, space became available for the consolidation of the three engineering departments in the CAE.