Fall classes have just begun at the University of Minnesota Rochester (UMR), and this semester, hundreds of students are taking a new route to class. They’ll be walking right by the offices of Mayo Clinic, Epic, Boston Scientific, and other industry-leading researchers.
On the first floor, the university has a new common area for students, faculty, and staff centered around collaboration and flexibility.
“Those are the two words that really drove the way we designed the spaces,” said Dr. Jeffrey Ratliff-Crain, Vice Chancellor at UMR. “This building gives us that.”
Moveable couches, chairs, and tables lend themselves to group work and discussion. Dry erase boards cover most of the walls, allowing students and faculty to work through course material together.
UMR also has space on the third floor, including a classroom and a laboratory. Ratliff-Crain says this lab and its state-of-the-art equipment parallel much of Mayo Clinic’s professional lab space in the building. The third-floor classroom can be turned into another laboratory if more space is needed.
This kind of coexistence between students and industry professionals is exactly what DMC leaders have in mind for the Discovery Square subdistrict.
“We believe the proximity of UMR students and the companies in One Discovery Square will be mutually beneficial,” said Chris Schad, Director of Business Development at Discovery Square. “Imagine the opportunities these students will have to tap into the expertise of professionals from around the world,”
“It lends a certain level of seriousness to the work that the students are doing,” said Ratliff-Crain. “It’s absolutely interconnected to where they’re heading in their various career paths.”
Ratliff-Crain also thinks the students will bring in their own unique dynamic to the professional setting.
“What I’ve heard from individuals is they’re so looking forward to that energy and having the students come in and out,” he said.
Nine courses will be taught in One Discovery Square during the Fall 2019 semester, with classes held every day of the week. Most of UMR’s 220 incoming freshmen will take chemistry at One Discovery Square. Nearly 200 students will also head there for classes in Public health, Psychology, Spanish, and Biology.