Following much anticipation, construction will be completed on the STEM Innovation Learning Center Thursday, Oct. 1, 2020. To celebrate, Wayne State University will host virtual pop-up mini events throughout the day from 9:15 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Students, faculty, staff and the community are invited to join the celebration. RSVP at rsvp.wayne.edu/silcopenining.
The virtual event will include remarks from university and state leadership, a tour of the building, a drone flyover, and more. Construction on the project, which was made possible by a $14.75 million commitment from the state of Michigan alongside bond proceeds to WSU, began in March 2019.
“Now more than ever is a time for innovation and optimism, and this facility will help further a culture of collaboration and creativity across disciplines,” said Tonya Matthews, associate provost for inclusive workforce development and director of the STEM Innovation Learning Center. “Students, faculty and the city of Detroit will benefit from the ideas and opportunities generated within this cutting-edge, state-of-the-art learning space for years to come.”
This fall, the building will soft open with limited access while equipment is moved in and final systems are tested. However, the STEM Innovation Learning Center has already begun to play a role in achieving Wayne State’s vision for STEM education and research for current and future Warriors through various community partnerships that could build upon the spirit of inclusive, collaborative STEM.
The building will serve as a campus hub for multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary teaching and learning innovation, and it features 100,000 square feet of flexible classrooms, seminar spaces and instructional labs that include state-of-the-art technology to support hands-on and project-based learning. To enhance the sparks of creativity and collaboration that the STEM Innovation Learning Center seeks to support, the building also includes a maker space, a hacker space with virtual and augmented reality capabilities, and a 3D printing lab.
For the time being, the building is accessible by reservation only for essential student support services, in keeping with the university’s guidelines for campus health and safety during the coronavirus pandemic. In the future, the STEM Innovation Learning Center will provide undergraduate instructional laboratories, classrooms and dedicated student collaboration zones for STEM and STEM-collaborative courses across the 10 Wayne State schools and colleges that support undergraduate education. Additionally, the building will support faculty and graduate students as a unique, inspiring space for seminars, teaching and research presentations.
While the facility’s primary purpose is to serve WSU students and faculty, it will also serve as a new hub for Wayne K-12 programming, supporting students from the greater Detroit area with experiences in and exposure to hands-on, creative learning situations that ignite their interest in science and technology. Currently, WSU’s STEM programs take place in a number of venues across campus.
“This really is a moment to welcome all disciplines on deck,” said Matthews. “Now is the time to take our foundational STEM teaching and engage with some of the most pressing science and society issues of the day, from global pandemics to using STEM as a tool for social justice — and we now have an extraordinary space designed to take on just those kinds of challenges.”