The Murchie Science Building Expansion ribbon-cutting ceremony took place this Thursday, adding 61,000 sq. ft. of collaborative spaces, flexible classrooms, state-of-the-art laboratories, and student-centered design to a campus building that originally opened its doors in 1988.
The spaces and resources inside the MSB Expansion will revolutionize the STEM experience for all students at the University of Michigan-Flint. Thanks to UM-Flint's general education program, students studying in all disciplines take coursework in the natural sciences and technology, allowing the entire campus community to take advantage of this vibrant building. For students majoring in a STEM field, this new building is sure to quickly become a campus home, equally equipped for both intense studying and relaxing between classes.
Keep scrolling to see the features of the Expansion that "transforms what is possible inside of the STEM classroom at UM-Flint," according to Associate Professor of Inorganic Chemistry Nick Kingsley. What are you most excited for inside our newest campus building? Let us know on social media using the hashtag #MSBExpansion.
The MSB Expansion was developed with an open format, which both puts STEM on display and provides a seamless transition between theory and practice. Dr. Mazumder is pictured above lecturing in the Design Lab, which opens up into the Workshop. Students can learn both theory and application in one class period through an uninterrupted flow of learning spaces.
Students have the space and tools to make their ideas a reality in the Workshop, a well-equipped space that can be used for both coursework and extra-curricular activities. Large bay doors can accommodate large projects—a huge benefit for clubs like UM-Flint Baja, a student group which designs, builds, and races off-road vehicles. Their previous car and new frame are visible above.
Each floor of the MSB Expansion offers dedicated collaboration spaces for students, in both community and reservable formats. Students provided input on the furniture used in these spaces, such as the fourth-floor collaboration area seen below.
Small group study rooms offer whiteboards and wireless access to display screens, allowing for teams of students to work comfortably.
"The building's design recognizes that much learning occurs informally and outside of traditional classrooms and laboratories," explains Susan Gano-Phillips, dean of the College of Arts & Sciences. "These spaces will allow for peer-to peer-learning, tutoring, and extracurricular activities that ensure our students develop well-rounded skill sets desired by employers."
In addition to serving existing STEM programs, the MSB Expansion also provides a wealth of resources for the newly created College of Innovation & Technology. CIT Dean Christopher Pearson explains, "One of the new programs within CIT, Digital Manufacturing Technology, has similarity to certain areas of Mechanical Engineering, specifically robotics, electronics, and materials science. Sharing resources and instructional spaces associated with these areas will facilitate faculty collaboration and will enhance both programs to the advantage of the students."
The resources in the MSB Expansion aren't just catered toward traditional college students. The Genesee Early College, a five-year high school/early university program, also has dedicated a dedicated laboratory in the building, giving students a leg up when they transition to college full-time.
Current UM-Flint students can find the support they need in the Learning Commons, areas that house tutorial staff and student-led supplemental instruction. The Learning Commons make on-campus support visible and easily accessible for all.
"We want our community and our students to be excited to explore all of what STEM has to offer rather than to develop self-limiting beliefs about their capabilities to learn mathematics or science," Gano-Phillips says.
Student clubs will find much-needed space inside the building with the addition of a meeting space for Engineering student clubs and a Student Club Hub complete with secure storage lockers and spacious meeting areas.
The Club Hub will be an important space for student groups with shared interests such as the Chemistry Club, Society of Physics Students, or Wildlife Biology Club. "As students learn the knowledge and techniques of their disciplines, they are surrounded by design features which also facilitate their collaboration with others," says Gano-Phillips.
Collaboration doesn't just occur between students. The Expansion was also built to promote student-faculty interaction. Faculty offices are accessible off main hallways, with instructors of different disciplines in close proximity to one another. And expanded laboratory spaces facilitate joint research projects.
"The problems that UM-Flint graduates will develop solutions for, whether within industry or government or any sector, all require strong team-based approaches as they have become too complex and interdependent for a single person," says Pearson.
UM-Flint History took place on Thursday, January 28, as the grand opening of the MSB Expansion took place in a virtual format.
"We sought input from across campus, where we began by asking this very simple question: what does the future of STEM education look like?" said Gano-Phillips of the beginnings of the MSB Expansion project.
The event also unveiled the Expansion's Elements of Success wall, which can be seen above. Donors motivated to support student success in STEM disciplines contributed a minimum of $1000 to become an "element of success" for students in STEM disciplines on the periodic table of elements. Donors are still being accepted.
After keynote speeches from Flint Mayor Sheldon Neeley, Senator Jim Ananich, Chancellor Deba Dutta, and UM Regent Michael Behm, it was time for final portion of the event: the ribbon cutting. With one chop from the ceremonial scissors, a new era of STEM education officially begins for the UM-Flint community.
Logan McGrady is the Communications Specialist for the College of Arts & Sciences. Contact him with questions, comments, and ideas related to the arts & sciences at UM-Flint.