In its heyday, Scaife Hall reflected an optimistic vision of a technologically-driven future. Its metal scaffolding was of a different world than the yellow brick of next-door Porter Hall. Scaife’s image of futurism was enhanced by housing the cutting-edge Computation Center on its 4th floor during the late 1960s, which played a key role in CMU’s development as a juggernaut in computer science during that time and attracted aspiring engineering students.
One of those students was Chris Hausler (E’71), who found an immediate home in Scaife Hall when he came to Engineering in 1966 to study electrical engineering.
He recalls spending many late nights in the Computation Center as an operator at the helm of the “Univac 1108.” Eager students would compete for time on the Univac to practice programming and perform research. Though cutting-edge at the time, the machine filled an entire room on Scaife’s fourth floor. It had to be disassembled and air-lifted through the roof by crane. Hausler was on-hand to photograph.
“The Computation Center developed this strong community of users. It was a society of its own,” he recalled. “Scaife Hall was where the action was.”
Equipment like the Univac 1108 drew Hausler to Scaife Hall, allowing him and others to hone their skills as computer programmers. He credits his time in Scaife as “the key reason that led to my career as a software engineer.”
What attracts students to CMU and inspires them to pursue engineering is constantly changing. Room-sized computers are out, while robots and 3D printers are in. And tomorrow will bring something new entirely. But there to house those technologies, and the communities of learning and research that grow alongside them, will be Scaife Hall.