2023: A year of transition
As we leave Randolph Hall behind and look ahead to Mitchell Hall, the department is thriving in new, temporary spaces
The aerospace and ocean engineering department will have a permanent home in the long-awaited Mitchell Hall, along with a number of engineering departments. A state-of-the-art research building that will provide engineering students and faculty with innovative lab space and ample opportunities for experiential learning, Mitchell Hall will be the largest building on the university’s Blacksburg campus.
The building will be more than 70 percent larger than Randolph Hall to help accommodate growth of the engineering programs and provide innovative lab space and ample opportunities for experiential learning.
In preparation for the development and construction of Mitchell Hall, the faculty, staff and research lab spaces that had been housed in Randolph Hall have been relocated. While the university prepares to say farewell to Randolph Hall, which was built in the 1950s and closed its doors at the end of the Fall 2023 semester, the department has vacated the aging building and settled into brand new spaces across campus for the next five years.
The move out of Randolph Hall began just after commencement activities this past spring, and involved coordinating the evacuation of more than 30 faculty members, dozens of staff members, and countless graduate students into new offices. Lab spaces and major equipment that had been housed in Randolph Hall for decades were disassembled and reconstructed in spaces such as the Virginia Tech Swing Space, Research Building 2, McBryde Hall, and the Surge Building. This monumental effort was meticulously planned to ensure there was limited interruption to the educational and research mission.
In the next five years when Mitchell Hall is completed, the department will pack up and move all over again. For now, faculty, staff and research labs have landed at temporary spaces across campus and are thriving in updated and expanded work areas.
Virginia Tech Swing Space
- Address: 1600 Innovation Drive
- Located in the Corporate Research Center, adjacent to the Virginia Tech Montgomery Executive Airport, the Virginia Tech National Security Institute and the Advanced Propulsion and Power Lab
- Offices: main AOE department office, faculty/staff offices (including graduate advising team) and hoteling workspaces for graduate students
- Labs: Assured Vehicle Autonomy Lab, Autonomous Aerospace Systems (A2Sys) Lab, Hydro-Elasticity Lab, Cavitation Lab, Experimental Aeroacoustics Laboratory, Motion Capture Lab, and Model Building Center
- Building is also home to a number of offices and labs within the department of mechanical engineering
Research Building 2 (RB2)
- Address: 1861 Pratt Drive
- Located in the Corporate Research Center
- Labs: Aerospace Structures and Materials Laboratory, Materials for High-Temperature and Corrosive Environment Laboratory, Propulsion & Energetics Lab, and the Vortical Flow and Diagnostics Laboratory
- Address: 220 Gilbert Street
- Located on campus in the North Academic District
- Undergraduate academic advisors are housed here, to stay in close proximity to campus and the undergraduate population
Aerospace Engineering Design Laboratory
Some aerospace and ocean engineering faculty and staff will remain on campus in McBryde Hall (specifically the Center for Research and Engineering in Aero/Hydrodynamic Technologies, or CREATe research group), as well as existing office and research spaces in Goodwin, Norris and Durham Halls.
Finally, Virginia Tech’s world renowned Stability Wind Tunnel will remain in place and operational (with periods of intermittent closures) throughout the demolition of Randolph Hall. The tunnel will form a showcase element of the new Mitchell Hall, which will be constructed around it.