A Bay Area first
University draws up plans for STEM Education building
BY BARRY ZEPEL
Although it may be several years before construction starts on a new STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) education building proposed for the University’s Hayward campus, the groundwork has been laid with the completion of an initial program study.
The study reveals a leadership vision taking shape for a facility unlike any other education structure in the Bay Area. The five-story facility with 120,000 square feet of instructional and office space will be the first in the region dedicated solely to STEM education — and to new ways of teaching and learning STEM.
“This facility is a central element of our plans to make Cal State East Bay the region’s premier STEM-centered university,” said Mohammad H. Qayoumi, CSUEB president. “It embodies the principles of an open learning system that fosters teaching and learning innovation, as well as graduates who are better prepared to contribute to the economic, environmental, and social health of the region.”
Included in the unique design of the building — estimated to cost $85 million — will be flexible, reconfigurable space that will allow for combined classroom and laboratory work. Inspired by learning models at MIT and Stanford, key features of instructional spaces will be easily movable furniture and whiteboards on wheels called huddle boards, classroom laptops with specialized software, Web interactive whiteboards, and extensive video capability. Such versatility will allow for more effective student engagement and collaboration, while strengthening connections between students and teachers and project-based multidisciplinary group learning.
In addition to classroom and lab spaces, the building will house some faculty from CSUEB’s College of Science and College of Education and Allied Studies, as well as the Center for STEM Education, which will plan and coordinate the University’s overall STEM-education initiative. Plans also call for the facility to house three future complementary components: STEM Academy for K-12 Education; STEM Institute for Undergraduate Learning; and the Regional Institute for Scientific, Social, and Economic Research and Development.
The STEM Academy, which will provide innovative surroundings for developing and nurturing STEM education for the community, will support and train undergraduate and graduate students aiming to teach K-12 students. The STEM Institute will work to increase STEM literacy among college students and expand learning opportunities for undergraduates in STEM majors, while the Regional Institute will focus on applied research.
Realization of the University’s ambitious plans for the facility is dependent upon donor support, which will be required to leverage state funding to start construction of the proposed building. Donor support for the STEM Education building is therefore among the most important goals of Cal State East Bay’s University of Possibilities comprehensive fundraising campaign, now in the second year of its projected eight-year life.
Design of the building — to be located adjacent to the east side of the Arts and Education building on the current site of parking lot J — will meet CSU standards for energy performance and environmental quality and also incorporate numerous sustainability features, itself becoming part of the CSUEB learning experience and curriculum.
The STEM Education building will provide “an extended learning environment,” where the effectiveness of energy-efficient technologies will be continuously monitored, demonstrating a “highly sustainable environment,” according to Jim Zavagno, director of the Department of Planning Design and Construction. The design, including public areas offering a “welcoming presence,” will reflect deeply held University values of collaboration, sustainability, transparency, and openness.