Looking Back at Bannan
SCU Engineering School alums recall special memories about Bannan Engineering Building. What’s yours?
By Tracy Seipel
It was three years after the new Thomas J. Bannan Engineering Building opened in 1985, and Christina Roberts Enneking ’92 (Mechanical Engineering) remembers hanging over one of the balconies, laughing as she and her teammates dropped an egg onto a cushy holder they had designed in class to prevent the egg from cracking open.
She can’t remember the outcome of the annual Egg Drop Competition held on site at Bannan during her time at Santa Clara University.
“But it was a really fun way to put our engineering skills to use,” recalled the former NASA rocket scientist, who went on to lead a start-up telecom company as its chief technology officer, among other roles.
And who can forget running SPICE simulations to check the integrity of circuit designs, which produced such long paper printouts—up to 20 feet!—that they could only be read in the hallways?
Not Mona Hrapkowicz ’87 (Electrical Engineering) an Oregon-based alumna who works for Intel in tech marketing.
A SENSE OF POTENTIAL
For Agustin Fonts ’08 (Electrical Engineering), the three-story, 42,732 square foot building was a place he said he learned to make things, then understand how they worked.
“There was a lot of equipment I had never seen before, ready to be explored,” recalled Fonts, 31, now a software product manager at Google.
“And there was a sense of potential. That something important would happen for you in that building.”
That turned out to be true not only for Agustin, but his 32-year-old brother Alberto, who graduated with him in the same SCU class, with the same degree; he now works at SunPower, a local solar power company.
Scott Santarosa, S.J. ’88 (Civil Engineering), and now Provincial, Society of Jesus, Jesuits West, had transferred to SCU as a junior from UC Davis, grateful to be at a smaller school. “I still associate a sense of warmth, welcome, and humanism to the building because I was seeking that and felt it in SCU engineering,” said Santarosa.
SPRINGBOARD TO OPPORTUNITIES
For all of them—and thousands of other SCU engineering school grads—their years spent inside the Bannan Engineering Building helped shape their professional lives, from classes they took in contemporary facilities and labs, to the visionary professors who taught them, to the talented fellow students they bonded with so deeply.
“It set the stage for all of our experiences, and the foundation and opportunities we had,” said Roberts Enneking, now a professional leadership coach.
While their memories of the Thomas J. Bannan Engineering Building remain indelible, the structure is about to become a cherished memory, along with nearby Bannan Engineering Labs (12,965 square feet) and Bannan Hall (49,436 square feet).
Named after the late Tom Bannan ’23, a mechanical engineering graduate, engineering company CEO, and lifelong SCU philanthropist, the four structures—including Sullivan Engineering (28,736 square feet), named after SCU’s first engineering school dean, George L. Sullivan—will make way for a new era of engineering at Santa Clara.
BUILDING A NEW ERA
In their place will rise the 270,000 square foot Sobrato Campus for Discovery and Innovation, the new home for science, technology, engineering, and mathematics at Santa Clara University.
Built to support collaboration across traditional disciplines, the STEM campus (located on Alameda Mall in the heart of SCU) will be a state-of-the-art laboratory facility–a place where undergraduate and graduate students can discover, learn, experiment, and innovate.
“Hearing that Bannan will be replaced by a new state-of-art facility, while a bit sad from a nostalgic point of view, is another great step for SCU,” said Hrapkowicz.
“And it will solidify the engineering school’s reputation for thought leadership and excellence in Silicon Valley and globally.”