Innovative New Engineering Facility To Be Dedicated At CU-Boulder Oct. 18

Published: Oct. 6, 2002

Editors: Media are invited to tour the Discovery Learning Center from 10:30 a.m. to noon on Oct. 17. Engineering faculty and students will be on hand to discuss the new facility and current research. Please call Carol Rowe, (303) 492-7426, for more information.

The College of Engineering and Applied Science at the University of Colorado at Boulder will open and dedicate an innovative new engineering facility on Oct. 18, which is designed to make research more accessible to undergraduates and the K-12 community.

All events are free and open to the public.

The Discovery Learning Center will be home to 11 engineering research groups, integrating more than 250 undergraduate and graduate students in research along with faculty and industry or government partners. The $16.5 million addition to the Engineering Center is part of a college-wide initiative in discovery learning aimed at attracting more undergraduates to participate in research.

"Students learn best when they are actively involved in their education," said engineering Dean Robert Davis. "At the University of Colorado, we strongly believe undergraduates should be involved in hands-on learning and research experiences that enhance classroom education by providing practical examples, as well as more opportunities for individualized teaching and mentoring."

The college's Discovery Learning model involves "vertically integrated" teams in which undergraduates, graduate students, faculty and industry or government sponsors collaborate in research that is applicable to current needs of society. Graduate students help to mentor undergraduates, while industry or government professionals participate actively with faculty and students.

K-12 teachers also will be involved in some research projects through distance education technology or on-campus internships during the summer months. The Discovery Learning Center will provide outreach to K-12 students and the general public through special programs, exhibits, displays and online information.

The DLC is located at the southwest corner of Regent Drive and Colorado Avenue. The 45,000-square-foot facility helps to address a critical space shortage in the Engineering Center, which was built more than 35 years ago. It also serves as a partner facility to the Integrated Teaching and Learning Laboratory, which opened in 1997 to enhance hands-on engineering design opportunities for undergraduates and K-12 teachers and students.

The DLC features a three-story atrium lobby where exhibits of engineering technology, including at least two satellites, will be displayed. Also in the lobby is a 16-panel interactive video wall that will display a variety of images representing engineering research. A 108-seat videoconferencing facility, adjacent to the video wall, connects the DLC to off-campus locations. The center houses team meeting rooms and offices for visiting researchers, and has many windows, unlike most research facilities.

The DLC was designed by Klipp Colussy Jenks DuBois Architects of Denver to be a high-tech research facility that would take some of the mystery out of research. The firm also designed the award-winning ITL Laboratory.

"The wide use of glass and the center's advanced video capabilities open up the laboratories so that students and other visitors can see what goes on in engineering research," said Melvyn Branch, former associate dean of the college and a leader in the facility design. "Visitors to the DLC might be able to see a satellite in the making, or find out about new advances in computing devices. We think this feature is important to help attract more talented young students into the field of engineering and encourage them to pursue advanced study."

Another unusual feature of the DLC is its raised-floor system housing power and voice and data communication connections, allowing the laboratories to be easily reconfigured for new programs and changing needs. The 11 research groups who are the center's initial tenants are not necessarily permanent residents. "Each of the tenants must continue to involve students at all levels and make their laboratories a showcase for cutting-edge research to continue to be a tenant," Branch said.

The DLC will be dedicated to former engineering dean Ross Corotis, whose vision for integrating engineering research and education spawned the Discovery Learning initiative and center. A $7.8 million state appropriation and matching dollars from private donors funded the project. Construction began in June 2000.

Grand Opening events on Oct. 18 begin with a 1 p.m. address by Hewlett-Packard Chief Executive Officer Carly Fiorina in the Math 100 Auditorium. The Dedication Ceremony will begin at 2 p.m. on the Engineering Center Herbst Plaza, adjacent to the Discovery Learning Center. Featured speakers will be William Wulf, president of the National Academy of Engineering, and Ned Barnholt, president and chief executive officer of Agilent Technologies.

Those events will be followed by an open house featuring technology demonstrations from 3 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.



FACT SHEET - Oct. 7, 2002

* The Discovery Learning Center was designed by Klipp Colussy Jenks DuBois Architects and built by Alliance Construction Solutions and Swinerton Builders. KCJD also designed CU's Integrated Teaching and Learning Laboratory, which opened in 1997.

* The 45,000-square-foot Discovery Learning Center addresses a critical space shortage in the Engineering Center, built in 1965 when the college had fewer students, faculty and research programs. The DLC represents a roughly 10 percent increase in floor space.

* The facility provides space to 11 engineering research groups, involving more than 250 students in vertically integrated Discovery Learning teams. Initial DLC tenants are:

* BP 3-D Visualization Laboratory

* Center for Drinking Water Optimization

* Center for LifeLong Learning and Design

* Coleman Exploratory Computing Laboratory

* Colorado Center for Information Storage

* Colorado Space Grant Consortium

* Interdisciplinary Telecom Systems Laboratory

* Micro/Nano Electro-Mechanical Systems

* Molecular Biotechnology Laboratory

* Post PC Laboratory

* Space Experiments Institute

* The Discovery Learning Center has a high-tech infrastructure that includes live stream videoconferencing, an interactive 16-panel video wall and 3-D visualization capabilities. Laboratories are re-configurable through a raised-floor system housing the laboratory utilities to meet the needs of different research projects as they come online in the future.

* The top floor of the center is devoted to aerospace engineering research. The Colorado Space Grant Consortium and Space Experiments Institute will share facilities, including a clean room to assemble satellites and other space hardware and a Project Operations Control Center for communicating with astronauts and payloads in space. An observatory housing a small telescope to be used in K-12 outreach is located on the roof.

* Artwork and displays include the three-column outdoor sculpture "Imaginamachina" by Denver artist David Griggs, a Kugel floating granite ball fountain and two satellite exhibits in the atrium lobby. Each of the research tenants also has an outreach poster that describes its work for visitors.

* The $16.5 million project was funded with a $7.8 million state appropriation and matching dollars from private donors. The Colorado Legislature approved a one-year appropriation for design and construction in 1999.