The Ed and Gwen Cole STEM Building is scheduled to be completed before the Fall of 2018 semester. This $46.4 million facility will be a home to makerspaces and research labs that support areas of study in physics, engineering, astronomy, computer science, information technology, and other STEM fields.
The 84th Texas Legislature granted SFA approximately $46.4 million in tuition revenue bond funding for this new facility. Ed and his wife, the late Gwen Cole, have supported a number of SFA endeavors, including the Cole Art Center, Cole Concert Hall and the Ed and Gwen Cole Student Success Center.
Located across the street from the existing science facility, the new STEM building will house the Department of Physics, Engineering, and Astronomy, the Department of Computer Science, a new SFA planetarium with a 52-foot dome, and makerspaces, which are areas that allow students to collaborate and create prototypes or other manufactured works. The facility also will feature a machine shop, research laboratories, multipurpose labs, computer labs, collaborative classrooms and a terrace equipped with telescopes.
In response to a national call for reform in science, technology, engineering and mathematics education, SFA began years ago to implement activities, courses and public outreach initiatives that would enrich STEM-related interests. That same push for STEM reform was later incorporated into the SFA 2020 campus master plan.
“The STEM building will provide space to support the overall teaching, research and outreach mission of the College of Sciences and Mathematics.”
said Dr. Kimberly Childs, dean of the SFA College of Sciences and Mathematics.
“The case we made to the Texas Legislature is that, first and foremost, SFA is engaged in the call for reform in STEM education. As a result, the College of Sciences and Mathematics is growing,” Childs said. “We’ve added an engineering program, and we will be adding programs in other areas that are viable options for us as a university. Knowing that we were growing and that we were beginning to venture out into other areas, we realized that the capabilities we have on campus are limited.”
“We will have updated, state-of-the-art labs that support STEM teaching and research. From discipline-specific labs such as those for thermodynamics and cybersecurity to multipurpose labs that can convert from physics to biology, we are designing labs to meet student needs. The College of Sciences and Mathematics is taking the next step into the future.”
A building inspired by innovation and collaboration is what Childs and other administrators envisioned for the new structure.
“As we strive to provide transformative experiences for our students, we encourage them to take ownership in their education,” Childs said. “This current era in higher education introduces a heightened emphasis on student learning and technologically enhanced pedagogy, encouraging students to be actively engaged in their learning experiences."
“Between makerspaces, huddle spaces, collaborative classrooms, computer/cybersecurity labs and multipurpose labs, we believe this building will give students that experience. ”