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Dec. 10, 2021

Newly renovated space supports student success and STEM education

What was once a simple place to eat in Michigan State University’s Wonders Hall has been transformed into a hub of active learning and engagement supporting student success in science, technology, engineering and math. The newly renovated area includes the Engineering Student Innovation Center – a space dedicated to supporting the College of Engineering Cornerstone Engineering and Residential Experience, known as CoRe.

“This new space, like the STEM building we unveiled in September, is an investment in our future – not just as a university, but as a society,” said President Samuel L. Stanley Jr., M.D. “Tomorrow’s engineers will design our nation’s infrastructure and help solve our most pressing problems. This space is an investment in our students that will equip them to be world-class STEM professionals in the nation’s fastest-growing employment sector over the next decade.”

CoRe brings real-world expertise and challenges into the classroom and residential environment, reinforcing the relevance of studies in engineering to solving global challenges. The Engineering Student Innovation Center provides early engineering students with a transformative opportunity to get hands-on experience across many different engineering disciplines while they integrate ideas and work on lab-based projects and presentations. The space includes a 42-seat classroom, electrical lab, wet lab, machine tool lab, and assembly and testing area.

“For the second time this year, we can see a tangible manifestation of our values in a new learning space,” said Teresa K. Woodruff, Ph.D., provost and executive vice president for academic affairs. “Our land-grant mission is about connecting people to vital knowledge that will better their lives and improve our society. Seeing this mission realized in a beautiful new physical space is quite exciting. This space reflects the collaboration of a wide spectrum of experts to design a harmonious vision of curriculum design, scientific learning and student agency.”

The renovation in Wonders Hall also created three modern, technology-enhanced active-learning classrooms with capacities ranging from 78-112 seats. There are also informal gathering/study areas, six collaboration/team rooms (two of which are equipped as testing rooms), a personal health room and a single occupant/accessible restroom. During construction, the former first-floor classrooms  were repurposed to become computer labs and tutoring/help space for the College of Engineering.

“Experience has shown that involving students as early as possible in hands-on, lab-based activity prepares them for success as they enter the workforce,” said Tom Voice, senior associate dean and professor in the College of Engineering. “It also allows them an opportunity to learn early in their academic journey whether a specific type of engineering or lab work resonates with them. This has impacts on their academic success, happiness, mental health and ability as evolving professionals.”

This new space will also function as a “make-space,” a place for freeform creativity and design thinking in action, across a range of engineering disciplines. Students will, for example, be able to explore water quality academically, alone and in groups, use high-tech collaborative tools to design an experiment, go to the river for a sample, process the sample on-site, use computer modeling to analyze it, and present their findings using state of the art presentation tools, all in the same space.