How to create the STEM building of the future

CSU details 3 big steps to future-proofing an integral science building

science-stem-labPreparing students for careers in (STEM) is one of the biggest challenges facing universities today, and one way faculty and administration are attempting to continue to meet the needs of their students for years to come is by designing future-proof STEM education buildings.

At Clayton State University, a public university in Morrow, Georgia, planning a new science building, which will provide more lab space for undergraduate research and new lab equipment to prepare students for STEM careers, meant making sure the site would be equipped to handle the needs of future students.

According to Natural Sciences Department Chair Dr. Michelle Furlong, the new science building will better prepare students to enter the workforce by allowing them to gain hands-on experience operating equipment such as electron microscopes and a mass spectrometer and gas chromatograph.

Vice President for Information Technology and Services Bill Gruszka said his biggest concern is not whether the building will be well-equipped for today’s students, but that it will be able to serve the needs of future students, who may not even be thinking about their college education yet.

“The biggest thing you have to figure out is where technology is going to be in four years,” Gruszka said. “You can’t plan for today; you have to plan for then.”

Step 1: Don’t skimp on the network

Wanting to remain at the “cutting-edge of STEM education,” Clayton State University explained that a strong network infrastructure was at the top of the list of priorities for the new building, in addition to more laboratory space and new equipment.

The new building has the capacity to support up to three wireless devices for every student, which will be achieved through the use of 802.11ac wireless access points – a new, faster standard for wireless networking.

The new building will be equipped with a new wireless network infrastructure, which will complement the wired infrastructure–used to connect desktop computers and laboratory equipment to the school’s servers–to ensure undergraduate laboratories and classrooms always have a strong internet connection.

According to Gruszka, the new network infrastructure is also flexible, meaning it can be expanded upon to add a larger network capacity in the future if needed.

(Next page: Steps 2-3)