Thanks to the generosity of the David G. and Annette T. Jorgensen Family Foundation as well as the support of additional donors, the University of Utah Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering will have a new state-of-the-art undergraduate lab to enhance student learning.

The David and Annette Jorgensen Electrical and Computer Engineering Teaching Laboratory on the second floor of the Merrill Engineering Building will be comprised of separate sections, each focusing on a different ECE field. Construction has already begun on the project, and the second phase is expected to be completed by the start of fall semester.

Within the larger lab will be areas that cover research in MEMS, circuits, and solid-state technologies; power and control engineering; computer engineering; systems, signal processing, and communications; and electromagnetics and optics.

ECE chair Florian Solzbacher said he wanted a lab that reflects new directions in electrical engineering that focus on software-programmable hardware. “Today, almost everything is like an iPad that you program,” he said. “We want to give them hardware experiences, but they need to learn software programming too.”

In addition to new PCs, monitors and printers, the labs will be outfitted with additional equipment including function generators, oscilloscopes, digital multimeters, laser cutters, 3D printers and more. And the labs will be designed to give students more access.

“The space needs to be multipurpose and more flexible. I want a lab for smaller groups of students that are open longer,” Solzbacher said. “It’s a holistic overhaul of our entire curriculum and undergraduate education.”

David and Annette Jorgensen have donated $300,000 for the project while L3Harris Technologies, Inc., contributed $150,000. Other donors include John and Priscilla Cadwell, Bill Holt, Xiaoxin Chen, Florian Solzbacher, Ann Coombs, Clyde Coombs, the IBEX Foundation, Rocky Mountain Power, Deseret Power, Bridger Valley Electric Association, Dixie Power, Garkane Energy Cooperative, Moon Lake Electric Association Inc., Mt. Wheeler Power, and the Utah Associated Municipal Power Systems.

David Jorgensen graduated with a degree in electrical engineering in 1961 and became a successful entrepreneur and investor. He was the chief executive officer of a high-tech market research firm and co-founded a company which provided replacement parts and supplies for copiers and printers. The family also provides annual scholarships to University of Utah engineering students.

“It’s remarkable that we have support from local industry and from private donors like David and Annette Jorgensen who are so connected and understand how important our role is. They are saying, ‘We’ve got your back and we are here for you,’” Solzbacher said. “It’s easy to help and support in good times. But in a crisis such as the pandemic, these people have come out and said, ‘I will help.’ That is real commitment and a wonderful thing to show students.”