Space Policy

The Department of Human Centered Design and Engineering (HCDE) is assigned space on the second, third, and fourth floors of Sieg Building. The Chair and Administrator are responsible for managing research and office space in a manner that is equitable and assures efficient use of this limited resource.

HCDE Space Policy

The need for research and office space by individual faculty members varies from year to year, so formula-driven allocation must be tempered by strategic thinking. Because long-range planning involves continual changes and updates, space assignment may be adjusted over time, and no space assignment should be considered permanent. From time to time, it may be necessary to impinge on the space needs of individual faculty members in order to meet the department's mission and strategic goals. It is clear that needs for space sometimes arise quickly because of good fortune in fundraising, and the Department will attempt to accommodate such needs in a timely manner. Loss of funding also requires adjustment of space allocation, but our goal will be to accomplish this within a 2-year time constant.

Decision Making

Recommendations to assign or re-assign space are made by the HCDE Space Committee. The Space Committee is composed of the HCDE Chair, HCDE Administrator, and 2–3 core HCDE faculty members selected on a rotating biannual basis. Final decisions to assign or re-assign space are made by the Department Chair. The Space Committee is responsible for the annual review of space assignments, during which it will propose revisions to space assignments as necessary. In addition, the Space Committee will, at the discretion of the Chair, meet to make ad hoc decisions as needed to consider changes in space allocation. Reasons for such allocation changes include evaluations of space utilization, new or anticipated needs such as might occur with new hires and retirements, changing research laboratory requirements, etc.

Strategic Planning

A critical concern for the Space Committee in both annual review and ad hoc activities is long-term strategic planning for the department. This committee must both prepare for growth (e.g., faculty recruitment, new initiatives, grant success) and respond to contractions (e.g., retirements, long-term funding declines).

Factors for Evaluating Requests

The following factors will be considered by the Space Committee when evaluating space requests:

Research Type

  • Computational
  • Specialized research requirements (e.g., unique space needs to accommodate equipment or research activities)

Standard Metrics

To balance equitable assignments across faculty, the Administrator prepares standard measures and ranks faculty to evaluate the following factors:

  • Ratio of annual direct cost expenditures to assigned square feet
  • Ratio of annual indirect cost expenditures to assigned square feet

In RA and emeriti spaces of around 116 square feet (for example, Sieg 318), we will require up to 3 desks (each workspace being around 39 s.f.); in rooms of around 142 square feet (for example, Sieg 211), we will require up to 4 desks (each workspace being around 36 s.f.). The recommended standard desk size to be used to fit within these parameters is 3'x4'.

Additional Factors

Specialized equipment, experimental design, and other special factors influence the assignment and utilization of space. Common examples include:

  • Equipment of a size that requires placement in a room above the average square footage allocation for a lab
  • Equipment that is highly sensitive to high temperatures, necessitating space assignment on the northern side of Sieg Building
  • Shared resources "nominally" assigned to a PI but used by multiple PIs and labs
  • Startup package space commitments (generally not to exceed five years of guarantee)
  • Space dedicated to academic mission of department


In general, allocation of office and desk space is prioritized in the order below:

  1. HCDE Core faculty
  2. HCDE permanent academic and operations staff
  3. HCDE students with RA appointments (who are funded by HCDE PIs who does not have available lab space to accommodate them, or who have a full funded scholarship/fellowship; priority is given to PhD students)
  4. HCDE TAs
  5. HCDE research scientists and postdoctoral fellows (and other professional and classified research staff funded by PIs in HCDE)
  6. HCDE Part-Time Lecturers (and equivalent part-time teaching appointments)
  7. HCDE Emeriti faculty
    1. Emeriti faculty who are not teaching an HCDE course during a given quarter will be assigned to one shared cubicle space (with one desk), to be shared by all non-teaching emeriti. Due to the limited space and shared nature of the cubicle, emeriti will not be able to have personal belongings in the cubicle.
    2. Emeriti faculty who are teaching an HCDE course during a given quarter will be assigned space following the department's procedure for allocating space to quarterly part-time instructors. This generally equates to sharing an assigned cubicle with one other instructor.
    3. NOTE: Emeriti faculty who retire but return under the University's 40% Rehire Program (and teach an HCDE course) must vacate the faculty office they had prior to retirement, but will be reassigned to another office space that they will be expected to share with one other person.
  8. HCDE graduate students (not already assigned space as part of a TA or RA appointment; priority is given to PhD students)
  9. HCDE visiting scientists
  10. HCDE undergraduate students
  11. Others (e.g., non-HCDE faculty/staff, temporary consultants, volunteers)

Requesting New Space

It is the responsibility of Principal Investigators for confirming that adequate and appropriate facilities are available to perform work before accepting research funds; the responsibility of the Chair and Administrator is secondary to the PI's responsibility. The appropriate time for a faculty member to request new or modified space is before submission of a grant proposal that would require the new space; the eGC1 form has a place for noting such a need. The College of Engineering has a recommended process to request such space before the PI should note it on the eGC1 (generally to be initiated two months before the grant proposal deadline), and the PI should consult with the department Administrator for specific details on initiating this process. Faculty annual review meetings with the Chair also offer an opportunity to review space allocations and discuss resource needs, such as facilities, and to address issues resulting from cumulative changes to space based on current and potential future research activities.

If a faculty member finds that his or her existing allocated space becomes inadequate to meet the needs of his or her research, she/he may initiate a request for new space. The process for this is to send an email to the Chair with a copy to the Administrator describing their programmatic need for such space and providing specific details about the desired space. If the faculty member has begun negotiating with another faculty member to share space, that information should be included in the request as well.

Temporary Space Assignments

Temporary space assignments may be made by the Chair separate from the formal Space Committee review process. Such temporary assignments will be reviewed on an annual basis. At the request of the faculty member, temporary assignments may be reviewed by the Space Committee during their annual review and may be formalized as long term assignments.

Long Term Space Assignments

Long term space assignments require full deliberation by the Space Committee and final approval by the department Chair.

Reduction and/or Re-allocation of Space

Long-term declines in funded research activities will be considered by the Space Committee as the primary reason to justify a reduction in space assigned to a faculty member. A decrease in funding is considered "long-term" when it extends for longer than two fiscal years without a reasonable explanation. Should a faculty member be in a situation where assigned space is underutilized for more than two years, that space may be reassigned to another faculty member, including new hires. The department will strive to provide 9-12 months advance notice before the PI must vacate the occupied space. In such situations, the Chair will discuss the committee's recommendations with the affected faculty member before a final decision.