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New facility encourages campus collaboration through innovative design space

College breaks ground on a new facility designed to encourage collaboration and support education through pedagogy experiments, classroom technologies, and professional development for the next generation

Written by Heather Coit

At Grainger Engineering, our world-class faculty are devoted to using innovative teaching methods to spark passion in the most curious minds. Using the latest technology in our classrooms, future engineers receive the tools and guidance to turn inventive ideas into reality. Together, our faculty and students work to pioneer solutions to challenges in an ever-changing world.

“Innovative education is at the heart of what we do. The Campus Instructional Facility will be a space for supporting that education through pedagogy experiments, classroom technologies, and professional development for the next generation.”

Dean Rashid Bashir, College of Engineering

This collaborative spirit is central to the Campus Instructional Facility. The new building, which will be completed in 2021, will invite the sharpest minds across campus to teach and learn in state-of-the-art spaces. Classes from throughout the College of Engineering and campus will be held inside CIF, with a special emphasis on active-learning spaces, distance-learning environments, and cutting-edge innovation technology. The building will also serve as a testbed for entrepreneurship and student engagement while it frees up existing classroom space for new research labs.

As a partner in CIF, Grainger Engineering will use the facility and its specialized spaces to support programs like Engineering City Scholars, Professional Masters Programs in Engineering, and The Academy for Excellence in Engineering Education, among others. Discovery of what succeeds this semester from CIF’s Test Kitchen, where classroom layouts evolve monthly in a Data Science course, will be applied and continued in the new facility. CIF is poised to be a model of success in education for generations to come, and Grainger Engineering is proud to be a partner in building the future.

 

Campus Instructional Facility Design

The design currently stands at 122,000 square feet and will be built at the southeast corner of Springfield Avenue and Wright Street in Urbana. The facility has four stories above ground and a basement. The east and west sides of the building will boast windows using smart glass technology to control incoming light.

 

 

Geothermal Heating/Cooling System

Geothermal energy helps CIF use less energy to heat and cool the building, reducing our energy consumption, carbon footprint, and expenses in the long run. This initiative has led to achieving LEED-Gold certification by the U.S. Green Building Council.

 

“Teaching in the new Everitt spaces has really enabled me to teach the way I've wanted for years. We used to try to pair up students in teams of four in a traditional classroom, but they'd have trouble hearing each other across desks. The active learning classes make it easier to move in and out of group activities. There’s nothing to move or adjust; no more shuffling of chairs or assigning groups.”

Jennifer Amos, Associate Professor, Bioengineering

 

Active Learning Classrooms

These spaces promote collaborative learning by using class layouts conducive to holding group activities. Other spaces include: a distance-learning classroom, a 500-seat auditorium in the basement, a “Test Kitchen” for instructional innovation, and collaborative spaces on every floor of CIF; all of which will meet the needs of a growing campus.

 

Project Financing

The $75 million project, with $7.5 million initial investment from campus, is made possible by a public-private partnership that allows for tax-exempt financing. This approach uses a nonprofit entity created to work with a developer, architect, engineer, and construction contractor. The Illinois Finance Authority assists in issuing bonds to pay for the project. CIF is a lease-to-own building with campus set to take ownership in 30 years.

 

 

A sample of programs that will benefit from CIF:

 

Academy for Excellence in Engineering Education (AE3)

Programs like IEFX, which supports first-year students, and SIIP (Strategic Instructional Innovations Program), which promotes effective teaching and learning practices, will have opportunities to work with other education experts across campus while providing insight into improving instructional space.

 

Academy for Excellence in Engineering Education (AE3)

Programs like IEFX, which supports first-year students, and SIIP (Strategic Instructional Innovations Program), which promotes effective teaching and learning practices, will have opportunities to work with other education experts across campus while providing insight into improving instructional space.

 

 

Center for Innovation in Teaching & Learning (CITL)

From flexible classrooms to innovation spaces, CITL keeps its finger on the pulse of classrooms designed to support cutting-edge technology. Online learning and faculty support are also offered at CITL, giving the Center the chance to work with fellow education leaders across campus to make classroom learning a success at CIF.

 

 

Professional Master’s Program in Engineering (MEng)

Graduate students involved with MEng receive support from the Center for Professional and Executive Training and Education through internships, capstone projects, and program advising. Graduate students can count on additional support in their endeavors at CIF, where collaborative space is yet another resource.

 

 

Engineering City Scholars

CIF will support the tech pipeline between Urbana-Champaign and Chicago by promoting distance-learning for programs like Engineering City Scholars, which offers selected students internships in Chicago’s growing tech hub. The Discovery Partners Institute and Illinois Innovation Network similarly benefit from this connectivity by investing in programs to drive the economy in Illinois.

 

 

Test Kitchen

Classroom needs are always evolving, and experimentation is key to finding a pathway to success. Wade Fagen-Ulmschneider and Karle Flanagan have turned their Data Science Discovery course into a Test Kitchen at DCL to help guide decisions made on classroom design specifically for CIF. Each month, new elements are introduced and explored in the classroom to find what is most engaging to students. The Test Kitchen will continue after CIF is built.

 

 

“In my years of teaching, I have never had a space where we purposefully think about the future of teaching. The "Test Kitchen" is a constantly evolving space that we are using to design, test, and pilot innovative classroom spaces and where we are finding the best way to teach both today’s and tomorrow's students.”

Wade Fagen-Ulmschneider, Assistant Professor, Computer Science

 

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We make it possible for our students to thrive by developing innovative education programs and providing scholarship opportunities. Strategic investments in our students, faculty, and facilities allow us to recruit and retain the brightest minds.