Sherman Jen Building: The Joys of Commissioning a New Lab

October 18, 2018
Mickie Noble

We are very excited about the new lab in the Sherman Jen building! The floor-to-ceiling windows mean we have a lot of a natural light at all times of the day. The new vacuum system allows filtration to occur without the hazard of soaking your lab partner’s laptop. The new prep lab allows chemicals and media to be prepared without taking up space in the teaching lab, and all the new fridges and freezers are welcome additions.  This doesn’t mean that there aren’t exciting moments in trying things out for the first time in the new space.

Sometimes, plugging in new equipment results in a lot of really loud beeping and not much else. There are many kinds of alarms on all sorts of equipment to tell you when they are unhappy (or not at the right temperature, or not at the right power level, etc.). Thankfully, the folks from RRU’s Physical and Environmental Resources Department and Durwest are able to speak machine (and in some cases speak techno-babble to the appropriate vendor) and get these things sorted out for us in short order.

Our latest potential excitement was when we turned on the gas for the Bunsen burners in lab for the first time. Turning on the gas sounds like a simple thing – but it had the potential to be a really big deal. We weren’t positive that all the air had been bled from the gas lines, which had the potential to set off the gas alarms in the building (and cause the evacuation of the building). We weren’t sure how much gas in the room would set off the gas alarms, or if the fire alarm would also ring. So, after some consultation, it was decided that with the support of the P&ER folks, we would test this before classes first thing in the morning. It was almost anticlimactic when the Bunsen burner lit with no problems or alarms of any kind – but also a relief to all concerned.

I’m sure that we will continue to have our moments of excitement and relief as we settle into our new space and have a lot more “first times”!