Michigan State University in East Lansing has opened the doors of its new STEM Teaching and Learning Facility. The building is the first in nearly 50 years that MSU has built with state funding.
Designed with students in mind, the 21st-century classroom and laboratory spaces are geared toward gateway courses in biological sciences, chemistry, computer science, engineering, and physics. When fully scheduled for a semester, there will be nearly 7,000 students in class in the building each week.
“At MSU we are constantly evaluating how we deliver a world-class education while also looking forward — what is the future of teaching, what is the future or learning — nowhere is that more evident than the new STEM Teaching and Learning Facility,” says Dr. Samuel L. Stanley Jr., president of MSU. “We looked beyond just constructing a building to how the curriculum is delivered and how spaces are used with a focus on the student experience. The potential impact is unlimited.”
Approximately 1,200 seats in common areas and gathering spaces are available to facilitate student collaboration. These spaces are open for studying or can be reserved for group projects and faculty office hours. Every area is completely accessible.
“The entire building is a student resource, designed in every way as an academic space for students to use,” says Teresa K. Woodruff, provost and executive vice president of academic affairs at MSU. “The immersive, flexible, and interactive learning spaces will also support our faculty as they engage students’ interest in STEM-related degrees.”
In 2018, the state of Michigan awarded MSU $29.9 million through its capital outlay appropriation toward the construction of the classroom spaces in the north and south wings of the building. The most any single construction project can receive from the state is $30 million.
“When you invest in higher education, you are contributing to student success and investing in our future,” says Dianne Byrum, chairperson of the MSU Board of Trustees. “I applaud the Michigan Legislature for recognizing the value the STEM Teaching and Learning Facility will bring to MSU and our state.”
The classroom and laboratory spaces were built around the structure of Shaw Lane Power Plant, which was decommissioned in the 1960s. Much of the power plant’s original equipment was cleaned and kept as part of the building’s esthetic including portions of the original boiler.
The load-bearing structure, framing, floors, and ceilings of the north and south wings were constructed using cross-laminated timber, also known as mass-timber. Among other benefits, mass-timber promotes forest health and reduces carbon emissions.