New Innovation Loft Boosts Student Collaboration in SIUE School of Engineering

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SOE Innovation LoftThe Southern Illinois University Edwardsville School of Engineering (SOE) continues its focus on student success through academic excellence and technical preparation with the fall 2019 opening of the Grady Family Foundation Innovation Loft on the second level of the Fowler Student Design Center.

The agile, reconfigurable space is designed to support collaboration and innovation for the SOE’s extensive array of project teams. The loft features six collaboration zones that include projection screens, mobile wirelessly connected flat screen displays, mobile white boards and writeable wall surfaces. See the video.

“The Grady Family Foundation Innovation Loft is a transformative addition to our innovation infrastructure in the School of Engineering,� said SOE Associate Dean Chris Gordon, PhD. “Our student teams will thrive in this collaborative environment as they formulate designs and develop their projects. This exciting new space reflects the open and collaborative workspaces that School of Engineering students often encounter upon graduation.�

The Innovation Loft is already attracting more students to become involved in organizations thanks to the on-campus space for project development, located directly above installation work bays.

“Previously, student organizations had to work on their projects throughout the Engineering Building, which was often challenging for the flow of productivity,� said junior mechatronics major and Solar Car project manager Sydney Stogner, of Shiloh. “Some teams have also used space at partner companies. These spaces were incredibly helpful, but often made it difficult for all of our members to commit to the travel involved off campus.�

“Now, with the Innovation Loft, we can hold meetings on campus and work on the white boards to lay out our designs and write our equations,� she added. “It’s been a positive way to maintain membership and get people involved. Working on project teams is beneficial, because it offers students the opportunity to improve themselves and figure out exactly what they want to do in engineering.�

Student input was sought for the loft’s design, furniture and equipment needs, according to Holly Liebel, a senior mechanical engineering major and president of the Joint Engineering Student Council.

“We helped decide on it being called a loft and on the type of furniture that would be best for moving around in different configurations,� Liebel explained. “This will be a great new space for students to come up with ideas, work out their designs and then go downstairs and make those ideas come true.�

A ribbon cutting ceremony for the Fowler Student Design Center will be held at 11 a.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 30. Attendees will have the opportunity to meet with students, tour the downstairs working bays and explore the second floor Grady Family Foundation Innovation Loft.

The School of Engineering’s Fowler Student Design Center and the Grady Family Foundation Innovation Loft were made possible by generous private contributions.

Photo: SIUE School of Engineering students collaborate on a variety of projects in the new Grady Family Foundation Innovation Loft.