UVM opens phase one of $104 million STEM facility

Associate Professor of Physics Madalina Furis explains an experiment to students Libin Liang, Ph.D. student in Materials Science, left, Kim Hua, Ph.D. student in Materials Science, and Katy Czar, a Physics major.
BURLINGTON — The University of Vermont celebrated on Thursday the completion of the first phase of a $104 million science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) complex.

The facility, made up of three separate buildings, is the largest construction project in the Burlington university’s history, according to David Rosowsky, the university provost.

“The facility is meant to make STEM learning inspiring and accessible to all, so all UVM students regardless of their major graduate with math and science literacy, an appreciation for these disciplines and a commitment to become lifelong learners within our technological society,” Rosowsky said.

UVM Provost David Rosowsky explains how the multi-disciplinary STEM complex will be used. Photo by Bob LoCicero/VTDigger

Students majoring in STEM courses make up about one-third of the undergraduate enrollment at UVM and account for more than 60 percent of graduate admissions. Ninety percent of undergraduates majoring in other disciplines take two or more STEM courses during their time at UVM.

The STEM complex will encourage interdisciplinary cross-pollination between UVM’s academic departments of chemistry, physics, mathematics and statistics, computer science, civil and environmental engineering, mechanical engineering and electrical and biomedical engineering.

“The plan was to put people together to promote the kind of collaboration across disciplinary boundaries that can lead to truly innovative learning and discovery,” Rosowsky said.

The departments will be located in Discovery Hall, which opened in June after nearly two years of remodeling, and Votey Hall, which opened in August after an eight-month renovation. Discovery Hall has 14 teaching labs and 22 faculty research labs. Votey will boast 11 new teaching labs and three, new faculty research labs to the STEM complex.

Faculty research labs for chemistry, physics and engineering are clustered together, while Votey Hall’s third floor features a large physics lab near a group of engineering labs. Also, teaching labs are “flexibly designed” and can be reconfigured for a host of research purposes.

The third project, Innovation Hall, is slated to be finished in May 2019 and will house faculty offices, lecture halls and classrooms. 

“The STEM complex has given us the capabilities to bring to life innovative, curricular programming that’s strategic for the university and attractive to our student body that we’ve long planned, but didn’t have the facilities to implement,” Rosowsky said.

Hannah Hinarattu, a Neuroscience major from South Burlington works on an organic chemistry lab. Photo by Bob LoCicero/VTDigger
A wind tunnel at the UVM STEM complex. Photo by Bob LoCicero/VTDigger
Computer numerical control machine tools at UVM’s STEM facility. Photo by Bob LoCicero/VTDigger
Robotic hands made with a 3D printer at UVM’s STEM research facility. Photo Bob LoCicero/VTDigger
An electric car at UVM’s STEM research facility. Photo by Bob LoCicero/VTDigger
Discovery Hall, one of three buildings in the UVM STEM complex. Photos by Bob LoCicero/VTDigger
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