STEM Center settles into new location on campus

Megan Binkley, Opinions Editor

Kevin Mirus, the Interim Associate Dean of Arts and Sciences at Madison College, is already looking to the future when it comes to the potential of the STEM Center.

Just this fall, the Madison College STEM Center moved from its original location on the third floor of Truax to a new larger space on the first floor of the E-Wing. Unlike the cramped former center, the new multi-room suite has room for a range of activities, and for large groups of students to work on-site at once.

Mirus described the larger conference and lobby rooms as being especially conducive to collaboration and studying. In addition, he mentioned the enhanced work space now available to students at the center.

“[This is] really exciting: we have an entire room devoted to a workshop, and we are slowly ordering some equipment, and testing elements of what it might take to a run a Maker Space or Fab Lab here at the college.”

He also attributes the layout of the workshop room to an increased level of interest from the student body. “One exciting thing is that, since the equipment is now on display in a big window [open to the hallway], people are stopping and noticing, and stopping in, and coming up with ideas for things that they’d like to fabricate. I’m really excited about the potential for bringing in a lot of different people,” Mirus said.

Though demanding, fleshing out the new STEM Center hasn’t distracted Mirus from his dreams for the future of the facility. Mirus confirmed that he considers the new, current STEM Center location a stepping stone toward the eventual goal of an even bigger area.

“We have applied (so to speak) for a larger space in the college’s 10-year facility plan,” he said.

“As part of that plan, we did request a larger space, space a little closer to the ‘main street’ area…I do see us moving into a larger space able to accommodate a lot more students, a space able to accommodate the speakers we’re bringing in during the semester, so we don’t have to independently arrange for rooms outside of the STEM Center.”

Mirus also described a desire to transform the future STEM Center into a community hotspot. “We’d hopefully also have a tie-in to a larger Maker Space or Fab Lab that wouldn’t necessarily be solely maintained by the STEM Center. It would be more collaborative with the Entrepreneur Center, and one or two other areas in the college.”

Additionally, Mirus speaks about his desire to expand and improve STEM Center relationships with Madison College K12 Partners.

By developing this partnership, Mirus hopes to spread the word about the ever-growing STEM Center, and attract more STEM-oriented students from high schools all across middle and southern Wisconsin. In the immediate future, Mirus hopes to begin this exchange by scheduling tours for pre-college students through the STEM Center, enabling hands-on experimentation and technological demonstrations while expanding the possibility for interest and participation from future Madison College students.

The STEM Center is located in room E1816.