Wonders is wonderful

Dec. 10, 2021

MSU hosts grand opening for Engineering Student Innovation Center

Michigan State University President Samuel L. Stanley Jr., M.D., and other university leaders officially introduced a newly renovated, engineering-focused teaching and lab space in Wonders Hall to the community with a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Friday, Dec. 10. The transformation of the former cafeteria provides an opportunity to provide a significant mix of teaching and learning spaces, including the Engineering Student Innovation Center, a space focused on supporting the College of Engineering CoRe Experience (Cornerstone Engineering and Residential Experience).

MSU and Engineering officials dedicated the new $18 million Wonders Hall Engineering Student Innovation Center on Dec. 10.
MSU and Engineering officials dedicate the new $18 million Engineering Student Innovation Center in Wonders Hall. Photo by Zea Labate.

“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 MSU 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 professional 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, integrating ideas, working on lab-based projects and presentations.  

Provost Teresa Woodruff speaks with Engineering students about their project.
Provost Teresa Woodruff speaks with Engineering students about their project. Photo by Zea Labate.

“For the second time this year, we are able to see a tangible manifestation of our values in a new learning space,” said MSU Provost Teresa K. Woodruff, Ph.D. “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 Engineering Student Innovation Center includes a 42-seat classroom, electrical lab, wet lab, machine tool lab and assembly and testing area. In addition to the Engineering Student Innovation Center, the renovation also created three modern, technology enhanced active learning university classrooms with capacities ranging from 78-112 seats. It also contains adjacent 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. The renovation also allowed the former first-floor classrooms to be repurposed for computer labs and tutoring/help space for the College of Engineering.

Among the new spaces are a 42-seat classroom, electrical lab, wet lab, machine tool lab and assembly and testing area.
Among the new spaces are a 42-seat classroom, electrical lab, wet lab, machine tool lab and assembly and testing area.

“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 a 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.