A 33-year-old building on campus is transformed thanks to a significant expansion that is adding 61,000 square feet of academic space to UM-Flint.
The campus and community celebrated the expansion of the Murchie Science Building (MSB) with a virtual grand opening and ribbon-cutting ceremony on January 28. During the ceremony viewers were taken on a video tour of the spaces that feature innovative labs, classrooms, and faculty and student areas and heard from various campus and community leaders.
Planning for the new wing began in 2015 with input gathered from across the campus from faculty, students, and staff. As a result, the completed spaces are unique to the campus, and encourage collaborative and interdisciplinary approaches to learning. Some of the new spaces include:
- Thermal Systems Lab
- Dynamics & Vibration Lab
- Solid Mechanics & Materials Lab
- Fluids Lab, including a wind tunnel for the study of aerodynamics
- A Design Lab and workshop
- Robotics/Mechatronics Lab
- A general Science Lab for high school students enrolled in Genesee Early College
- Technology-enabled active learning classrooms
- The Learning Commons (for tutoring and group study)
- Research labs for STEM disciplines
- Reservable small group study rooms
- Student Club Hub
Many of these spaces will feature an investment of approximately $2 million in new, state-of-the-art equipment. The MSB currently serves over 1,150 students pursuing STEM majors in Biology, Chemistry, Biochemistry, Physics, Computer Science and Information Systems, Mechanical Engineering, and Mathematics, as well as many pre-health and pre-nursing students, and provides engaging learning spaces for all UM-Flint students fulfilling their general education courses.
Susan Gano-Phillips, Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, led the planning for the MSB expansion and describes the new addition as a paradigm shift for UM-Flint.
"There are many exciting and innovative spaces in the MSB Expansion," said Gano-Phillips. "I am particularly excited about the active learning classrooms, which feature technology to allow students and faculty to collaborate in small groups and then share ideas on monitors and large screens at the front of the class, at the touch of the instructor's I-Pad. This sort of technological improvement has the potential to revolutionize the way teaching and learning occur in the classroom. These classrooms will allow for more collaborative, discovery-based problem-solving and learning".
The new wing is also an important first for the campus. With an initial goal of LEED Silver certification for energy efficient design, construction, and operations, the project is now tracking toward LEED Gold status, making the MSB Expansion UM-Flint's first building to attain that status for a commitment to sustainability.
Partnerships made the new wing possible. The State of Michigan provided a $29.25 million capital outlay appropriation for the expansion project, and the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation awarded the university an $11 million grant to help fund the construction of the wing, upgrade other areas of the existing building and support the campus' continued growth of STEM studies.
"It's wonderful to see this vision come to life," said Ridgway White, president and CEO at the Mott Foundation. "The expansion of this building, combined with additional STEM opportunities at UM-Flint, will prepare current and future students to contribute to a growing and evolving economy. They will be our future innovators and industry leaders."
The new academic space will be used for students pursuing a wide range of degree programs in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM), and will also be home to the first classes offered by the new College of Innovation & Technology, which launches in Fall 2021. Chancellor Deba Dutta says the university is focused on providing students with an exceptional academic experience that prepares them to join the highly educated and skilled workforce of this century.
"Having the technology, the labs, and these new collaborative spaces enhance our institutional capacity for innovation," said Dutta. "Thanks to so many partners, UM-Flint students and faculty will challenge conventions and create new solutions for unmet needs. It is a win-win for the university and the Flint community."