College of Engineering News • Iowa State University

ISU dedicates Elings Hall and Sukup Hall, the new home for Department of Agricultural & Biosystems Engineering

ABE Building Dedication

More than 450 people attended the Sept. 25 dedication of Elings Hall and Sukup Hall, two new buildings that serve as the home for Iowa State University’s Department of Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering.

“I’m pleased to dedicate Elings and Sukup halls as the anchors of our beautiful Biorenewables Complex,” said ISU President Steven Leath. “They provide a centralized location for our nationally ranked Department of Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering, which has always been a leader in providing engineering solutions to agricultural problems.”

The two facilities — built with more than $14 million in privately raised funds and over $60 million in state funds — provide more than 100,000 square feet of modern research labs, classrooms, student spaces and offices, offering a state-of-the-art learning and innovation environment.

Elings Hall, Sukup Hall and the Biorenewables Research Laboratory, which was dedicated in 2010, make up ISU’s Biorenewables Complex. The Sukup Atrium connects the three buildings.

“The partnership between our donors, the university and the state make great projects like this possible,” said Roger Neuhaus, president of the Iowa State University Foundation. ”The Biorenewables Complex, now complete with Elings and Sukup halls, is a great example of what can happen when donors generously make commitments to help catalyze the vision of a project. The state saw the benefit of supporting a project that had a good deal of private support. These beautiful facilities demonstrate what can be accomplished when we all work together toward a common goal.”

Elings Hall is named in honor of Virgil Elings, a 1961 ISU alumnus in mechanical engineering who co-founded Digital Instruments, the first company to make atomic scanning probe microscopy readily available to scientists and engineers.

Sukup Hall is named in honor of Sukup Manufacturing and the Sukup family of Sheffield, Iowa. Sukup Manufacturing is the world’s largest family-owned manufacturer of grain bins and drying equipment, founded by Eugene and Mary Sukup in 1963. Eugene and Mary Sukup received honorary ISU degrees in 2010. Charles Sukup, president of the company, earned two degrees in agricultural engineering from ISU. Steven Sukup, vice president and chief financial offer, earned an ISU degree in industrial engineering.

Virgil Elings and Sukup Manufacturing and the Sukup family were key donors to the facilities.

“These magnificent buildings represent a critical interface of agriculture and engineering,” said Wendy Wintersteen, Endowed Dean of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. “It is an interface that becomes ever more important to meeting society’s challenges and opportunities. That’s why we’re very fortunate to have one of the nation’s very best departments of agricultural and biosystems engineering, and now housed in the very best facilities in the country.”

Sarah Rajala, dean of the College of Engineering, said, “With our extraordinary record of education, research and extension and outreach, it’s no surprise our agricultural and biosystems engineering program is consistently ranked as one of the top four across the country. Elings Hall and Sukup Hall will enable our students to push the envelope in terms of science and engineering, and do things that were unimaginable back in 1905 when Iowa State became the nation’s first agricultural engineering program.”

Dean Rajala noted that ISU has one of the highest enrollments in agricultural and biosystems engineering in the nation, with a record 836 students this fall. Seventy-four percent of the department’s undergraduates are from Iowa. The department has a 98 percent placement rate for its recent graduates.

“These new facilities are critical for the future of our department,” said Steve Mickelson, chair of the Department of Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering. “They allow us to recruit the best and brightest faculty, staff and students. They allow us to educate students in modern facilities with modern tools and technology that helps us meet today’s needs from employers.”

“We also can better conduct critical research important to the economic development of the state of Iowa and our nation,” Mickelson said. “It allows us to provide the extension educational programs needed by Iowans in order to help our agricultural partners.”

Construction on Elings Hall and Sukup Hall began late in 2011 and was completed this past summer.

Take a tour of Sukup and Elings Halls:

Dana Woolley, Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering, (515) 294-5905,
Ann Wilson, Engineering Communications, (515) 294-4881,
Brian Meyer, Agriculture and Life Sciences Communications, (515) 294-0706,