When most people hear the word “business”, they might think of a person in a suit and tie carrying a briefcase and typing into a computer all day. And guess what? That’s far from the truth.
A successful business focuses on innovation. And innovation is about creation. It’s about collaboration. It’s about thinking outside the box. It’s about changing society. It’s about realizing that “impossible” is just a word. And that’s exactly what Bryant University is doing.
Behind the Chace Wellness Center is construction for the new Academic Innovation Center. It will be complete in August 2016 and will totally change how college students learn.
This new building focuses on innovation, yet it took creativity to design it as well. President Ronald Machtley travelled to Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Stanford University, and Harvard University to understand how their students learn and how professors teach their curriculum. He wanted to create an environment that encourages the “entrepreneurial” spirit, in addition to understanding the concepts being taught by professors.
The new building will now be the main entrance for campus, as an additional Admissions Office will be located there as the departure site for tours. The formation of the new Academic Innovation Center is completely original to the academia world as well. The building – both inside and outside — will be covered in glass to create a sense of transparency and support group collaboration. It will have 15 breakout rooms and 10 new classrooms, a projector screen on the west side of the building that drops down for larger audiences, and conference tables and lounge chairs scattered around the building. The classrooms will be able to fit 50 people each (which is two times as large as the classroom now), but class sizes will still be capped at 35 students. The tiers are spread out to provide extra space that will be used for innovation techniques and help students learn in a more creative way.
Just like one of the innovation strategies to develop new ideas, collaboration played a major role in the design of the new building as well. For instance, Project Manager Dave Semnoski teamed up with the faculty and staff to make some of the decisions for the building design. They had input ranging from the type of flooring all the way to the technology and what the lectern would look like in the classrooms. Kip Ellis, the lead architecture of EyP, said that this development is one of the most groundbreaking projects their team has ever worked on.
Two other key people to recognize for the success of this new project are the Director of Capital Projects, John Metcalf, and Management Professor Michael Roberto. They both have helped bring the team together from the ideation phase into the implementation phase. In other words, the research team wanted the new Academic Innovation Center to combine the Silicon Valley vibe into a formal setting, as the West Coast meets the East Coast.
The main emphasis for this project is not to limit the innovation process for a specific area of study either. As a result, courses offered from both the College of Business and the College of Arts & Sciences will be taught there. Professors will be submitting proposals on their curriculum for next year and a committee will decide who will be able to move their classrooms over to the new building. Therefore, all professors have an equal opportunity to teach in the new building since there are limited classrooms. Not only will there be a place on campus to have a unique learning environment, but there will also be a new dining option for students, L’Artisan Cafe & Bakery; this is based on a café in downtown Providence.
The contemporary and inventive nature of the Academic Innovation Center is reflective of the learning environment at Bryant. While plans for the Academic Innovation Center were inspired by institutions like Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Stanford University, and Harvard University, Bryant is emerging as a leader and trendsetter among colleges in the nation. With programs like RED Day, the IDEA program, and First-Year Gateway Program, Bryant is providing students with modern learning opportunities.
In the fast-changing world we are part of, innovation and creativity is a key element to be successful. Not only must you understand it, but you also have to know how to use it to your advantage in order to stand out from your competition.
With unique strategies to stand out and teach students, Bryant University is now becoming an internationally known college. The university is providing an opportunity for students to learn and professors to teach in new ways. Traditional learning and memorization is slowly fading away and Bryant is at the forefront for active engagement and experiential learning. By helping students become leaders and innovators to make the world a better place, Bryant is truly teaching students that “impossible” is just a word.
No matter who you are, where you are from, or why you are reading this:
Bryant University Class of 2016