By ZEINAB NAJM
DEARBORN — The University of Michigan-Dearborn now has a state-of-the-art building equipped for the growing demand for science, technology, engineering and mathematics graduates.
The former science building underwent a four-year, $51 million renovation making it the new 20,000-square-feet Natural Sciences Building.
Newly added features include updated technology for teaching and research, 40 laboratories including a mix of research labs and teaching labs, student common areas for study, and recitation rooms for interactive learning.
The design and construction of the building also meets the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design silver criteria with LED lighting, solar shades and recycled storm water to water surrounding landscape.
“The building is the start today, but the real stars are the students and teachers inside the building,” UM-D Chancellor Daniel Little said at the Sept. 9 grand opening ceremonies. “The building meets the needs of science requirements and is ready for the 21st century.”
UM-D’s Department of Natural Sciences has seen a 21 percent increase in enrollment in recent years, according to the university.
“Students will have access to the best learning and research possible with real world and hands-on instruction along with student-to-student interaction,” Little said.
Overall, STEM jobs grew three times faster than non-STEM jobs from 2000 to 2010, according to the U.S. Department of Commerce, and are expected to grow another 17 percent by 2018.
“I cannot describe how radically the main science building has been transformed,” UM-D College of Arts, Sciences and Letters Dean Marty Hershock said. “Science will be showcased as it is happening, enhance teamwork and increase student engagement with updated tools.”
UM-D alumnus state Rep. George Darany (D-Dearborn) spoke about the importance of the building and future economy in the state.
“The building is a shining light for universities across the country,” Darany said. “Students are now equipped with the best skills and tools to help them earn a strong education in the STEM fields.”
With the completion of the Natural Sciences Building, the university is now looking to update its engineering building with a planned $90 million renovation.
(Zeinab Najm can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.)