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STEM building to focus on research

Contractors work on the new Science and Technology building, May 2017. The clouds reflect off the window panels that will wrap around the entire building for an open display. UP file photo
Contractors work on the new Science and Technology building, May 2017. The clouds reflect off the window panels that will wrap around the entire building for an open display. UP file photo

Lamar University is expanding. Last year, students got to witness the grand re-opening of the Setzer Student Center. Before that, the university unveiled the brand new Reaud Honors Building.

Now, we are within weeks of seeing the new Science and Technology building. a 70,000 sq. foot space with upper-level biology labs, 19 faculty offices, several classrooms, a renovated greenhouse and a state-of-the-art “maker’s space.”

“The new Science and Technology Building will contain new-age, new-era, modern and mixed-use lab- oratories for upper division biology,” James Marquart, vice president and provost of academic affairs, said. “They can also be switched out to other disciplines such as chemistry, engineering and physics.

“There will also be a “maker’s space” in the building for people, students and faculty to fabricate things.”

Marquart said the building will be multi-dimensional so it can do more than just accommodate biology students and faculty, but be a multi-purpose building for other STEM activities and classes.

“It’s hard to get space,” he said. “It’s hard to get buildings, so the programming that goes into these buildings today is that they are mixed- use. You may be able to do a biology lab and then in 30 minutes take it down and put it back up as an inorganic chemistry lab, or microbiology, or this or that. “That’s why the chairs, the tables and the things that will be in there are going to be movable.”

The “maker’s space,” which Marquart said is modeled after the Design Kitchen at Rice University, is a space for students and faculty to work hands-on with technology, and fabricate items such as drones through the use of 3D printers and drill presses provided in the space.

“Students will be making things,” Marquart said. “We want them to use the equipment provided for the space, and help them to potentially purchase their own items so they will be able to see and learn how to do these kinds of important things before they go on to take a job.

“They will be much more acclimated to the work world by working hands-on with technological equipment in college.”

Marquart said the curriculum and courses taught within the building also have to include and incorporate project-based learning.

“We will assign faculty members through their proposals, and we are viewing them as we speak, on the basis of activities,” he said. “Can we find interdisciplinary teams to work on a similar project? For example, water quality. That could be a biologist. It could be a chemist. It could be a civil engineer. It could be a mechanical engineer. But, what are they going to do to work together to get grants and contracts to employ students, to do the research, get the papers and the publications, and to continue that to sustain their activities as they go forward? That’s the ultimate goal — to get people working in teams to solve problems.”

Marquart said the other element of the building is science on display, which can be viewed through the open, see-through design.

“When people walk by the building they are going to see people in there doing things, that they are busy, they’re active,” he said.

Marquart said the building is also going to be an important element in recruitment and campus enhancement.

“Ultimately, the building is going to help reshape the campus and be a star in the region for us,” he said. “We can bring high quality students to see the building and maybe get them to come to Lamar.

“Architecturally, it is the newest classroom building on the campus in almost 40 years. It will be a new building for the campus. It will continue to enhance the look of the campus, and we will get lots of students, parents and activity through it.

“I think it will be a building that people in Southeast Texas are going to want to come and see.”

The Science and Technology building is set to open at the end of the semester, and begin housing classes as early as spring 2019.

Story by Cassandra Jenkins, UP editor

Category: News