February 2, 2001 -- MSU News Service

MSU industrial and management engineering professor Ed Mooney remembers that the I&ME senior design lab in Roberts Hall was old and outdated when he used it as an MSU undergrad 30 years ago. And it hadn't changed a bit until an unexpected gift helped the lab go from "rags to riches." Work is nearly complete on the first phase of a complete revamp of the Billie Ragsdale Industrial and Management Engineering Capstone Design Laboratory located on the fourth floor of Roberts Hall. Funded by a gift from Richard Ragsdale in honor of his father, who graduated from MSU in I&ME in 1939, the work is bringing the antiquated lab into the 21st century.

As he proudly opens the door on the brightly-lit room which is clearly a meeting space for a large group of I&ME students, Mooney describes how far the space has come since renovation began last fall. "First of all, it was always dark and closed in and there was no ventilation, so it was hot in the summer and cold in the winter," Mooney said. The electrical system has been upgraded, allowing computers in the lab to be upgraded as well. Partitions that divided the room into small spaces have been knocked out, and new furniture is to come. "We couldn't plug in any more than six computers before this." Mooney said because there are 25-30 I&ME seniors annually, "the room didn't come close" to accommodating student needs. 

"And we were using 10-year-old technology."

With state dollars for updating facilities scarce, the lab might have had to suffice for longer had it not been for a $156,000 gift from Richard Ragsdale of Nashville, Tenn. in honor of his father, Billie O., who also ran cross country for MSC. Billie retired in 1960 as an industrial engineer with General Electric and he and his wife currently live in Sun City, Ariz. The gift comes in phases. Half of the funds are being expended to update the lab through facilities upgrades, furniture, and equipment The balance has been placed in a permanent endowment to maintain the lab. Mooney praised the work of MSU architect Christy Chase, Pat Simmons of ITC and Skip Martin and Jeff Butler of Facilties Service on the project. "All of the work was done in a short time over Christmas break with the quality exceeding expectations in all cases," Mooney said.