A committee of STEM faculty and staff that includes representatives from biology, chemistry, mathematics, physics, psychology, exercise and nutrition science and liberal arts and sciences are working towards the construction of an addition to the north side of Mendel.
The purpose of the Women of Science Center is to increase the number of women in STEM fields.
“[The] science building will allow STEM disciplines to expand opportunities to students both in terms of course delivery, as well as research opportunities. Mendel Hall is well over 100 percent usage in the STEM spaces – with many areas serving double and triple duty. STEM fields are very strong financial choices for Bachelors degrees,” said Erick Agrimson, professor of Physics and Sonography.
The building plans include research suites where faculty from different disciplines will be brought together, rather than grouping them by discipline. The plans also include flexible classrooms and labs that reduce seat time, allowing students to move around more often. Additionally, there are multi-purpose workrooms, such as an animal room, environmental room and data processing lab, designed for use by all disciplines.
Similarly, flexible multi-purpose “collaboratories” are being designed so students and staff can work together in conducting experiments. Lastly, an auditorium and public gathering space is being built in. It serves as an area where students and staff are able to meet each other, as well as visiting professors.
In addition to the new center, Mendel Hall is to be renovated, as the building has reached maximum usage. The cost of the renovation is still to be determined, but construction for the Women of Science Center is estimated to cost 35 million dollars.
“We took about a six month hiatus from the design work while more funds were raised. We have now received more gifts that will allow us to develop this spring the schematic drawings for the building,” said Assistant Vice President and Dean School of Humanities, Arts, and Sciences and College for Women, Alan Silva.
In order to find inspiration for the design of the new center, visits were made to Gustavus Adolphus College, University of St. Thomas, Oberlin College and 3M, among others, to sample some designs. An open design was decided upon because it will attract the 21 century learner with its limited interior walls, flexible labs, glass ‘look through’ corridors and community gathering spaces.
While the new center will provide the tools Katies need to become innovative STEM leaders, it will impact commuters, as the faculty parking lot in front of Mendel will be taken out. The removal of this parking lot will result in less space for everyone, creating even more of a burden for the already crowded parking lot.
“O’Shaughnessy is a big parking lot, but it still gets about half full during busy times on campus, since it includes event parking as well. I don’t think it would be fair if faculty/ staff would be parking back there as well,” Breanna Hofmeister ’17, commuter student and social work major said.
Despite dispute around The Women of Science Center, it offers a new space for learning , which is always welcome at St. Kate’s .
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