Engineering students get an £11m new home at Sheffield Hallam University

From left,  pro vice-chancellor for the faculty of arts, computing, engineering and sciences Roger Ecclestone, director of estates Dan Ladbury, electrical and electronic engineering student Rhiannon Jones, head of engineering and mathematics professor Nasser Sherkat and assistant dean of research Wayne Cranton.
From left, pro vice-chancellor for the faculty of arts, computing, engineering and sciences Roger Ecclestone, director of estates Dan Ladbury, electrical and electronic engineering student Rhiannon Jones, head of engineering and mathematics professor Nasser Sherkat and assistant dean of research Wayne Cranton.
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Sheffield engineering and design students are getting used to a ‘vibrant’ new home that joins two buildings with a modern £11m atrium.

Sheffield Hallam University opened the new-look science, technology, engineering and mathematics centre in Pond Street just before Easter.

Sheffield Hallam University

Sheffield Hallam University

The new atrium, one of the first people see when walking out of Sheffield railway station, brings together the Sheaf and Eric Mensforth buildings, allowing the subjects - known as Stem, for short - to operate under one roof.

The airy atrium has turned what was once an uninviting and exposed corridor into a social space that offers opportunities for individual and group work, meetings and relaxation.

Electrical and electronic engineering student Rhiannon Jones, 24, said: “Before it was just an open space, with no cover to get between one building or the other. Carrying project work would be quite a nightmare.”

But now both buildings are connected, and a new covered walkway over Pond Street also allows seamless access into the Surrey and Harmer buildings, eventually leading through to Hallam Square.

The brand new chemistry lab.

The brand new chemistry lab.

“It’s got a really good supportive student reception since it opened at the start of Easter,” said Rhiannon.

“It’s a quiet time because of exams but I was amazed by how busy it was.

“It’s just a nice place to come and sit which we didn’t have before. You can bring projects out, do some revision - I’ve seen academics have meetings. It’s a very universal space.”

The atrium also features a flexible exhibition space to students can show off their work.

Some of the equipment engineering students can use.

Some of the equipment engineering students can use.

"“We’ve got an open day coming up. By then there should be projects on show, and maybe some prototypes," said Rhiannon.

"And we can easily change it for different themes. There is quite a lot of buzz around it.”

She added: “We used to be really scattered so its nice to feel like we have a home.”

Money has also been spend upgrading the chemistry labs and making sure the various engineering departments have homes within the Stem centre.

And there are spaces designed to encourage problem solving and project management.

Pro vice-chancellor for the faculty of arts, computing, engineering and sciences Roger Ecclestone said the aim was to mimic the work done on the former Head Post Office building nearby.

He also pointed to the need to get more women into engineering - highlighted by the decision to name the Stem centre after Hertha Ayrton, one of Britain’s first prominent female engineers.

“The important thing is students leave here with skills and knowledge to be highly employable,” he said.

“We are working closely with employers to make students as employable as possible.”

The university is working on a 20-year masterplan.

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