Engineering students work on a low-orbit minisatellite in Lacy Hall.

Experimental solar cars. Concrete canoes. Lightweight model airplanes. Low-orbit minisatellites. These are just a few of the projects that students are working on in the Engineering School’s new 20,000-square-foot, four-story Lacy Hall.

This experiential learning center has the technology, tools, equipment and space to allow students to roll up their sleeves and get hands-on experience with their work. For example, the third floor, which is at ground level, has large open spaces and a front door large enough to accommodate a vehicle. In another part of the building, rapid prototyping tools can be used to manufacture parts and devices from computer designs.

“We engineers solve societal problems by applying science and math fundamentals to real-world situations,” says James H. Aylor (Engr ’68, ’71, ’77), dean of the Engineering School. “The skills and abilities needed to do this cannot be learned exclusively in a classroom or from reading a text. They have to be learned firsthand, through experience.”

UVA’s Division of Facilities Management uses the bottom two floors of Lacy Hall. “Sharing in the costs of the building allowed for a larger footprint and created an environment where our students will be able to work with and learn from working professionals as they design and construct their projects,” says engineering professor George Cahen, who serves as director of experiential programs.

A gift from Linwood A. “Chip” Lacy Jr. (Col ’67, Darden ’69) and his wife, Connie (Nurs ’66), made the building possible. They named it in honor of his parents, Linwood A. “Bub” Lacy and Ann Warrick Lacy. The senior Lacy left the University before graduation to be a World War II fighter pilot, flying 53 night combat missions in the Pacific.