A 33-year-old building at UM-Flint is transformed thanks to a significant expansion that is adding 61,000 square feet of academic space to the campus.

The campus and community recently celebrated the expansion of the Murchie Science Building with a virtual grand opening and ribbon-cutting ceremony, during which viewers took a video tour of the spaces that feature innovative labs, classrooms, and faculty and student areas, and heard from various campus and community leaders. 

Planning for the new wing began in 2015 with input from faculty, students and staff. As a result, the completed spaces are unique to the campus, and encourage collaborative and interdisciplinary approaches to learning.

The expanded Murchie Science Building adds 61,000 square feet of academic space to the UM-Flint campus. (Photo by Scott Galvin)

Some of the new spaces include:

  • Thermal Systems Lab. 
  • Dynamics & Vibration Lab.
  • Solid Mechanics & Materials Lab. 
  • Fluids Lab, including a wind tunnel for the study of aerodynamics.
  • Design Lab and workshop.
  • Robotics/Mechatronics Lab.
  • General Science Lab for high school students enrolled in Genesee Early College.
  • Technology-enabled active learning classrooms.
  • The Learning Commons, for tutoring and group study.
  • Research labs for science, technology, engineering and math.
  • Reservable small group study rooms.
  • Student Club Hub.

Many of these spaces will feature an investment of approximately $2 million in state-of-the-art equipment. The MSB currently serves more than 1,150 students pursuing STEM majors in biology, chemistry, biochemistry, physics, computer science and information systems, mechanical engineering and mathematics, as well as many pre-health and pre-nursing students. It also provides engaging learning spaces for all UM-Flint students fulfilling their general education courses. 

Take a video tour of the expansion.

Susan Gano-Phillips, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, led the planning for the MSB expansion and described the new addition as a paradigm shift for UM-Flint.  

“There are many exciting and innovative spaces in the MSB Expansion,” she said. “I am particularly excited about the active learning classrooms, which feature technology to allow students and faculty to collaborate in small groups and then share ideas on monitors and large screens at the front of the class, at the touch of the instructor’s iPad. This sort of technological improvement has the potential to revolutionize the way teaching and learning occur in the classroom.”

The new wing is also an important first for the campus. With an initial goal of LEED Silver certification for energy efficient design, construction and operations, the project is now tracking toward LEED Gold status, making the MSB Expansion UM-Flint’s first building to attain that status for a commitment to sustainability. 

Part of the interior of the expanded building. (Photo by Scott Galvin)

The state of Michigan provided a $29.25 million capital outlay appropriation for the expansion project, and the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation awarded the university an $11 million grant to help fund the construction of the wing, upgrade other areas of the existing building and support the campus’ continued growth of STEM studies.

The new academic space will be used for students pursuing a wide range of degree programs in STEM disciplines, and also will house the first classes offered by the new College of Innovation & Technology, which launches next fall.

Chancellor Deba Dutta said the university is focused on providing students with an exceptional academic experience that prepares them to join the highly educated and skilled workforce of this century. 

“Having the technology, the labs, and these new collaborative spaces enhance our institutional capacity for innovation,” Dutta said. “Thanks to so many partners, UM-Flint students and faculty will challenge conventions and create new solutions for unmet needs. It is a win-win for the university and the Flint community.”

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