Penn State University Berks Campus (PSU-Berks) wanted to investigate the feasibility of installing a fluids discovery lab within its Gaige Engineering Building through re-purposing a computer lab. We assisted PSU-Berks with a feasibility study, collaborating with staff and faculty to identify needs for the lab space, prepare cost estimates, a preliminary design, and construction schedule, and provide ideas for cost savings to allow the project to fit within budget constraints. The findings of the study presented no major hurdles for the project, and it was green-lighted for design and construction. We subsequently prepared construction and permit drawings for the lab. The water channel was a design/build project for engineering students and the lab successfully opened, providing unique opportunities for fluid dynamics research and experiments.
The new fluid discovery lab did not require reconfiguration of the existing space. The majority of the work, revolved around the removal of the concrete slab and excavation to house the recessed plumbing trench under the water channel, and design of a new foundation to support the 8.5-ton water channel operating weight. Absolute darkness was also a requirement of the space for experiments, requiring sealed edge motorized shades on external windows.
Modification of the existing VAV (Variable Air Volume) box and return air transfer ducts were needed to accommodate the increased space loads caused by the 15HP water pump providing water flow for the fluid channel. Dehumidification was also added. Fill and drain rates for the water channel were reviewed against existing building plumbing capacities to confirm its operation would not have any adverse effect on the existing systems.
Dedicated electrical circuits and local disconnects/plugs for the water channel pump and laser were added, along with ten 120/1/60 outlets.
Through this small project, we were able to collaborate with PSU-Berks staff and stakeholders to address the end user requirements, budget, code, and building constraints to allow PSU-Berks to create this valuable asset for the University for many years to come.