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WSU students will rediscover their creativity in Experiential Engineering Building

Fundraising for the Innovation Campus facility will include naming opportunities for those who invest

The experiential engineering building will be one of the first facilities on the WSU Innovation Campus, an initiative by WSU President John Bardo.
The Experiential Engineering Building will be one of the first facilities on the WSU Innovation Campus, an initiative by WSU President John Bardo.

Anyone who visits the Experiential Engineering Building after it opens next fall will witness education happening in a very nontraditional way.

In many cases, engineering students from different majors will work side by side on projects requiring their collaboration and ideas. Instead of classrooms, they will learn in laboratories and studios outfitted with state-of-the art equipment and tools. They’ll likely find themselves pitching in occasionally to help an industry partner figure out a problem. The atmosphere will be one of hands-on experience, idea sharing and entrepreneurship, said Royce Bowden, dean of the WSU College of Engineering.

“The College is embarking on a bold initiative to equip students not only with traditional engineering skills but also to unleash their creativity,” Bowden said. “Our goal is to sew entrepreneurship into the student experience to help fuel innovation and prepare real world-ready engineers and computer scientists.”

Royce Bowden
Royce Bowden, dean of the WSU College of Engineering

The Experiential Engineering Building will be one of the first facilities on the WSU Innovation Campus, an initiative by WSU President John Bardo to support job creation and a university strategy based on innovation. Inside the Experiential Engineering Building will be about 25 laboratory spaces where faculty, students and industry partners will work together as they discover new knowledge, products, processes and technology.

Companies and individuals will have an opportunity to donate and in return have their names and logos placed on lab spaces in highly visible ways, said Elizabeth King, president and CEO of the WSU Foundation.

“We have begun reaching out to those who recognize the value of experiential learning for our students and are excited about the collision of ideas that will take place on the Innovation Campus,” King said.

The goal is to raise $15 million in private support for the Experiential Engineering Building. Of that amount, $5 million would be spent on immediate opportunities like equipment and furniture purchases while $10 million would be placed in an endowment to sustain innovations in engineering education long term.

Groundbreaking for the Experiential Engineering Building is scheduled for spring of 2015 at the site where the Wheatshocker Apartments have stood since 1964. The Experiential Engineering Building is slated for completion by fall of 2016.

A view of the future of WSU
A view of the future of Wichita State with the addition of the Innovation Campus.

“This is a facility where students will acquire the know-how to capitalize on their valuable intellectual property to advance economic and technological prosperity,” Bowden said. “Tomorrow’s most successful companies will be those that attract this kind of talent. We invite those organizations to invest in essentials that will unleash our students’ creativity onto the world stage.”

Bowden said studies have shown that the educational process does not always nourish the ability of people to come up with creative ideas and solutions.

“That’s part of what we’re going to improve with this building and our new emphasis on how we’re going to educate our students,” he said. “The way engineering schools have done it in the past is not the way we need to continue to do it. We’re going to eliminate barriers and instead emphasize interaction, collaboration and project-based innovation learning.”

A variety of subjects will be taught in the 25 or so labs, including aerospace and astronautics, biomedical, electrical, computer science and computer networking, industrial and manufacturing, and mechanical engineering.

 

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