The System Students Couldn't Beat


Ten years ago, Cooper Science Hall at Edinboro University was just short of being archaic. "Equipment," says one chemistry professor at the University, which is situated among the rolling green hills of northwestern Pennsylvania was "something out of the 60's and 70's." The halls were poorly lit, the walls gloomy, the desks wooden, chemically stained and badly scarred, and the worktops black, ugly and depressing.

Today, following the successful completion of a $6m capital building campaign in the late 1980's(a quarter of which was devoted to the sciences), it is exactly the opposite. Cooper Hall bursts with light. Classes are again filled to capacity, and the faculty is enthusiastic about their more high tech image.

"We were a tough group to convince," Brian McKay, Professor of Chemistry admits. "Most of the faculty liked wood and wanted to keep it."

Although the faculty know that any modular plastic laboratory system they bought would be structural foam, injection molded, and therefore extremely strong and durable, they hesitated. The new units had to stand up: Students would be using it from early in the morning until late at night.

"That's usage," Jeremiah Covert, Dean, School of Science Management & Technology, says almost by way of understatement. "Perhaps not quite in the same context as that of a research lab, but every bit - if not more so - demanding."

Equally, the new system had to be immune to bumps, jolts and bangs of nightly cleaning equipment, and it had to stand up chemically.

Product samples were requested from UNICELL® and "submitted to every test we could think of," McKay recalls. It was burned with Bunsen burners. They poured bromine, nitric acid and xylene on it, kicked it, sat on it, rammed floor cleaners against it. "And it stood up. UNICELL® resisted every thing we threw at it. We were amazed!"

Case Study #4 Graphic

Top: UNICELL® will not contaminate experiments stored in the students' Culture Room at Edinboro University.

Middle: With full stops at the back of each UNICELL® shelf, faculty no longer has to worry about chemicals or flasks falling to the floor.

Bottom: One of several Chemistry Labs at Edinboro University.


The committee subsequently voted in favor of plastic, and in favor of UNICELL®.; And they have not been displeased.

"It certainly is a much brighter and neater environment," says Dean Covert, "and so much easier to work in. I wish I'd had it when I was teaching."

Or that he would have had the 'culture room' which Edinboro now has in microbiology. Because UNICELL® is heat-resistant to 180 F and will not warp or rust, the science faculty installed rows of C27D's in a heat-controlled, 8 X 12 ft. room for storing students' bacterial cultures. Once made up, the cultures are placed on trays, each of which is name, date and class coded.

"It's a marvelous system," says Covert. "Neat, tidy, totally clinical, with no threat of further contamination."

On an administrative level, Covert is equally impressed with UNICELL®'s flexibility. As class sizes ebb and flow, rooms can be rearranged, relocated and interchanged. What one year was used as a Chemistry lab can next be reconfigured into a Biology lecture hall.

Equally of interest has been UNICELL®'s adaptability to the school's disabled student population. "It has been a tremendous enhancement to that program," explains William Reed, Assistant Vice President for Public Information. "We have one of the biggest programs not only in Pennsylvania, but also in the country, for the physically disabled. With UNICELL®, lab tables and stations can be raised or lowered to meet the needs of any student's disability. We now are able to offer our students an education in the sciences which heretofore had been severely curtailed."

UNICELL® Lab Features & Benefits

  • Is chemical resistant
  • Is heat resilient
  • Won't contaminate
  • Is tough and durable
  • Is flexible, can be configured to meet changing needs

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