July 31, 2017

STEM Innovation Learning Center project proposal receives state approval

A proposed STEM Innovation Learning Center, to be located in the Science and Engineering Library building, has advanced to the planning phase following funding approval by the State of Michigan.

Earlier this year, the university submitted to the state its top priority Five Year Capital Outlay Plan, which included the renovation and repurposing of the vacant Science and Engineering Library building into an instructional learning environment for undergraduate STEM students. Wayne State was among 10 community colleges and universities approved to proceed with the planning phases of their projects.

“The STEM Innovation Learning Center will provide significant benefits to both the university and the State of Michigan,” said Wayne State President M. Roy Wilson. “Our students and faculty will use the renovated facility to pursue STEM education, research, and careers, while the state will benefit through their investment in workforce development to meet future talent demands that will keep Michigan competitive and growing.”

The state has committed $14.75 million toward the project, which is estimated to represent about 50 percent of the total completion costs. Wayne State will use philanthropic gifts or bond proceeds to fund the remainder of the project.

When completed, the project will transform 100,000 square feet of space into STEM learning facilities. The STEM Innovation Learning Center will include flexible classrooms, seminar spaces, offices and instructional labs that are technology-rich and support hands-on and project-based learning. The Center also will have maker-hacker labs that offer students interdisciplinary exposure to skill set development that is not possible in most instructional settings.

The project will provide undergraduate instructional laboratories and support spaces for the 25 foundational STEM courses in biology, chemistry, math, and physics, which will continue to undergo transformation through the efforts of a National Science Foundation grant titled Student Success Through Evidence-based Pedagogies.

Space will also be provided for courses in engineering, computer science, geology, nutrition and food science, psychology and anthropology, all of which demand more instructional laboratory capacity due to the growth in undergraduate student enrollment.

While new classrooms and labs for Wayne State students and faculty are a major purpose for the building, the project also offers opportunities to expose K-12 students from the Detroit area to hands-on, creative learning situations that can ignite their interest in science and technology and inspire them to pursue STEM-related technical careers or college preparation.

Currently, the STEM programs at the university take place in a number of venues spread across campus. The STEM Innovation Learning Center also will include space for an Office of STEM Pipeline Initiatives. This office would serve as a focal point for K-12 STEM pipeline programs and activities, and would facilitate the coordination and expansion of programs.

The projected completion date for the Center is expected by fall semester 2020.

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