Herrick Labs expansion

Bob and Deborah Bernhard & Terry and Lynda Manon provide funds for growth
More than 50 years ago, students and faculty from the School of Mechanical Engineering began to conduct research in a renovated 1920s-era brick horse barn, the Ray W. Herrick Laboratories.

Today, the building is filled to capacity with more than 100 graduate students, visiting scholars, faculty and staff working in areas related to energy, the environment, quality of life and sustainability.

To double the floor space of the current building and expand the opportunities for new discoveries at Herrick, a three-phase building campaign is underway. The first phase of the expansion for the new facility on Russell Drive between Harrison and State streets has been completed and was dedicated on Nov. 8, 2013.

"This building is a testament to our great mechanical engineering alumni, donors, friends and corporate funding partners, and the importance and relevance of the research of past and present students and faculty."

— Patricia Davies, director, Herrick Laboratories

It heralds a new era for its industry-relevant research on issues ranging from advanced automotive technologies to "smart" buildings. The renovations will make Herrick a living laboratory, configured to enable testing of new building technologies and energy management strategies.

Dean Leah H. Jamieson notes that the research housed in Herrick's new facilities "will attack some of the most daunting and complex problems confronting the world, such as rising energy consumption and environmental pollution, climate change, public health, comfort and security, and issues associated with an aging population."

These cutting-edge advancements are made possible by generous contributions that funded the first phase of renovations, a $30.7 million project. In 2012, the former director of Herrick Labs (1993-2005), Bob Bernhard, and his wife, Deborah, and alumnus Terry Manon and his wife, Lynda, added to the project's ongoing momentum by contributing gifts to name Herrick's conference room and director's office.

Bernhard now serves as the vice president for research at the University of Notre Dame. He chose Purdue as his first faculty position after graduate school, in large part because of Herrick's reputation for combining research, education and industry priorities.

"Herrick Labs is an ideal environment for graduate students or faculty members to do their research and to grow in a supportive environment with all the right characteristics for how mechanical engineering students need to grow," Bernhard says.

From his arrival at Purdue, Bernhard was supported by a group of faculty members, and his gift to Herrick is in appreciation of their mentorship.

Bernhard also found that Herrick's collaborative nature extended beyond research.

The plans for the Herrick Labs Building Campaign were developed during his directorship, and as the faculty determined the priorities for the campaign, decisions were made by consensus.

"Everyone believed that the model of Herrick Labs should be enduring, so we worked in a collective way to keep that culture and capability alive," Bernhard says.

Terry Manon experienced the collaborative culture of Herrick as a graduate student. After finishing his undergraduate work, Manon planned to start a job in industry until he received an unexpected call from Professor Wolfgang Leidenfrost, who asked if he would instead consider conducting graduate research at Herrick. That conversation with Leidenfrost — whom he had not previously met — changed the course of his career.

His time at Herrick and work with Leidenfrost taught him "that there is no such thing as a failed experiment. You can learn something from every attempt and sometimes finding out 'what isn't' is as important as finding out 'what is,'" Manon says.

Manon's graduate research focused on a question posed to the labs by Whirlpool and gave him a firsthand understanding of the connection between industry needs and the work at Herrick.

Now retired as the director of Trane Commercial Systems Air Handling Strategy, he serves as the chair of Herrick's Industrial Advisory Committee (IAC ).

"I really believe in and support the idea of industry and university collaboration," he says.

Manon appreciates that the leadership of Herrick actively seeks input from industry leaders about how Purdue faculty and students can provide problem-solving contributions.

Terry and his wife, Lynda, contributed to the Herrick Labs renovation to further these partnerships, and in the hopes that Herrick's 50-year model will expand and thrive in the years ahead.

To support this program, please make check payable to the Purdue Foundation and designate to the "Herrick Labs Building Campaign." Mail to the Purdue Foundation, 403 W. Wood St., West Lafayette, IN 47907-2007.