A Dream Realized

What began in 2000 as an ambitious, and undoubtedly challenging, vision by a newly appointed dean of the College of Engineering became a reality in January. With the completion of Phase II of the Shelby Center for Engineering Technology, Auburn Engineering’s vision to construct a state-of-the-art engineering complex with the latest in instructional and research technology has come to fruition. 

In 2008, Phase I of the complex was completed and became the new home to the Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering and the Department of Computer Science and Software Engineering. The center also houses administrative offices, the Office of Student Services and the Alabama Power Academic Excellence Program, as well as a 150-seat auditorium and a number of computer classrooms, laboratories and student study galleries. 

The recently completed second phase includes Wiggins Mechanical Engineering Hall, home to the college’s largest academic unit. It provides a central location for administration and faculty offices, as well as laboratories, designated student study areas and much-needed space for student design projects and collegiate competition teams.

Phase II also includes the Advanced Engineering Research Laboratory designed to create space for both ongoing and emerging research, transforming the future of many of the college’s research efforts. It contains new clean rooms as well as specialty lab space. The laboratories within this new facility have been named, by resolution of the Auburn University Board of Trustees, as the Benefield Laboratories in recognition of Dean Larry Benefield’s leadership, bold vision and distinguished service to the College of Engineering. 

A Son’s Tribute

In a ceremony in April, the college dedicated the new Dwight L. Wiggins Mechanical Engineering Hall. The building was named through a generous contribution from Dwight L. Wiggins Jr., a 1962 and 1967 mechanical engineering graduate, in honor of his father Dwight L. Wiggins Sr.

“Dwight reminded me that he did his graduate research in the attic of Ross Hall because there was no other space available,” said Larry Benefield, dean of engineering. “With the dedication of Wiggins Hall, we now have state-of-the-art instructional and research facilities that Dwight never dreamed possible at Auburn. His generosity will provide future generations of mechanical engineering students the best facilities available.”

Wiggins’ gift represents not only a tribute to his father whose values, work ethic and initiative contributed to his own personal and professional success, but also his commitment to Auburn Engineering. “When Dean Benefield outlined his vision for new engineering facilities, I knew it was something that we needed to make happen,” said Wiggins. “I am honored to play a part in seeing this dream become a reality. These facilities are critical to making Auburn Engineering one of the top programs in the nation.”

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