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Breaking ground for innovation

University of West Florida | news@uwf.edu

Plans for the University of West Florida’s new Science and Engineering Building continue to thrive and break the mold of the traditional classroom facility. On March 11, UWF will officially break ground on this innovative building for the School of Science and Engineering, which will bring science to the forefront and boost interdisciplinary and collaborative learning. A reception and robotics demonstration will follow the ceremony at the Center for Fine and Performing Arts lobby across from the groundbreaking site. The events will begin at 3 p.m. and are free and open to the public.

“The overall feel for the building and the seed for the school falls back to the idea that you have people interacting across disciplines,” said Leonard ter Haar, director for the School of Science and Engineering. “The interaction across disciplines becomes much more important than the interaction within the discipline itself. The design of this facility will help make that happen.”

The groundbreaking ceremony for the building will include numerous displays and projects designed by students who will be on hand at the event to answer questions. A tour robot, which is in the beginning stages of construction, is being designed to take visitors on tours of the Science and Engineering building once it is built and will be on display at the event. Attendees will also be able to experience a three-dimensional (3D) immersion demonstration and draw images in 3D and view it from all angles.

Attendees of the groundbreaking ceremony will get a chance to check out the Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) aircraft and Autonomous Underwater Vehicle (AUV) competition robot which is being readied for competition in 2008 and the Unmanned Ground Vehicle (UGV) competition robot, which is being prepared by a new competition team who is hoping to have the robot ready for competition in 2009.

For many UWF students, the Science and Engineering building will be a haven for learning, with functional spaces throughout the building including open labs, technical support and advising areas which will create a type of ‘one-stop shop’ for students across all programs. Gaming labs, amphitheatre type classrooms, solar paneling to provide electricity for student projects, an Internet cafĂ©, a 92-seat auditorium and a virtual reality center are just some of the features in the design for this four-story building, which will be composed of a rectangular and circular component adjoined by a glass atrium.

“The science in the building will be on display,” said ter Haar. “Once it is built, people will be able to walk through and see lab activities, classes in session, robots being built and student teams in action.”

Seven programs and more than 950 students and 53 faculty and staff make up the School of Science and Engineering. Computer science, computer information science, electrical engineering, computer engineering, mathematics and statistics, physics and software engineering, will all reside in the new building. The next few years will be transition years for these programs, which are currently housed in different buildings throughout the campus.

“It has become very common to pull the sciences and the engineering disciplines into a common hallway so to speak,” said Leonard ter Haar, director for the School of Science and Engineering. “The discoveries happen when you have hallway conversations.”

For more information, contact ter Haar at (850) 474-2542 or e-mail lterhaar@uwf.edu. Learn more about UWF’s School of Science and Engineering at uwf.edu/sse.

By Megan Clark, University Marketing Communications

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