STEM complex to integrate campus

All the upcoming construction on Central campus poses the question of what the finished product will look like.

With the STEM — science, technology, engineering and mathematics — complex, the goal will be accessibility and collaboration. Right now, the facilities in Cook Physical Sciences and Votey Hall are dated and the construction of the complex aims to improve them, Provost David Rosowsky said.

Students, especially those in STEM majors, notice the old and inefficient labs. “Well, I guess they work, but they definitely could be improved,” senior Zach Merriam said. “I definitely think they are a little small.”

All of the construction kicks off this summer and STEM will be the first project to begin, said Robert Vaughan, director of capital planning and management. The construction will be done primarily in two phases, Vaughan said.

First, Angell Lecture Hall will be demolished and a new laboratory building will be constructed in its place by 2017, then Cook Physical Sciences will be torn down and replaced by a building with offices and classrooms by 2019; meanwhile, Votey Hall will be renovated all along, he said.

The two new buildings, named Innovation and Discovery, will be connected by an atrium and Votey will be connected by a bridge, Rosowsky said. “Essentially [the] STEM project is sort of three entities, so it’s Innovation, Discovery and Votey,” he said. The complex’s location in the heart of campus is intentional and aims to involve a variety of students, Rosowsky said.

“I think of this complex as being a real integrator for campus and that’s why we wanted it in the center of campus and not off to the side like a lot of engineering schools are kind of built,” he said. Rosowsky also hopes the complex will become a “STEM magnet” for the entire state of Vermont.

“When I talk about this building, I can’t imagine a weekend day when there aren’t big yellow school buses in front of this building because I think we’re going to have field trips, student classes and summer camps,” he said. “No such facility exists in Vermont like this.”

The completion of the STEM complex is also on the radar of admitted students and their families, Rosowsky said. “It’s not aimed at facilitating enrollment changes per se,” he said. “I will say that the students and their families that are considering UVM are keenly aware of this project and I believe it will have a tangible effect on our yield.”

Merriam said he feels these changes will be “beneficial to the students at UVM.” “A lot of research in Votey is not really obvious or transparent,” he said. “Better equipment will allow for a cooler experience for students.”