MTSU Science Building leaves quite a first-day impression

With plenty of glass, natural light filters into the large atrium inside the new MTSU Science Building. (MTSU photo by Darby Campbell)
MTSU biology students Laura Jarnagin and Chelsey Mims perform research in one of the new Science Building labs. (MTSU photo by Darby Campbell)
Biology student Eric Wright uses one of the new interactive directories to locate the office of one of his professors in the $147 million MTSU Science Building. (Photo by MTSU News and Media Relations)
Students listen while professor George Benz delivers a marine biology lecture on the first day of classes in the new Science Building Monday, Aug. 25. (MTSU photo by Darby Campbell)

As first impressions go, the new $147 million MTSU Science Building left a lasting and memorable one Monday, Aug. 25, for students attending the opening day of fall semester classes in the 2014-15 academic year.

Comments from students viewing the facility for the first time or faculty having only just moved in recently included "very spacious," "comfy," "bright with lots of windows" and a building with "so many opportunities" for students. To view video of student and faculty reaction to the opening, visit http://youtu.be/D0S5IVFm3Xc.

The 257,000-gross-square-foot structure, one of the most significant investments made by the state of Tennessee for the enhancement of science and technology education, opened one semester earlier than the projected January 2015 start.

The building features 37 class laboratories, two open labs, 13 research labs, six classrooms, about 1,500 student stations in labs and classrooms, chemistry and biology faculty and staff offices, numerous informal learning areas and space for student presentations.

Biology faculty member Cindi Smith-Walters, who is embarking on her 21st year at MTSU, said the move into the new building "is like stepping out of shadows and into sunlight."

"There are so many more opportunities students will have with technology and the facility, being able to do research, and the student areas are unbelievable," Smith-Walters said.

Senior Kenneth Ball, a general science major and secondary education minor from Savannah, Tennessee, called it "a wonderful step up from the old buildings."

Wiser-Patten Science Hall, built in 1932, and Davis Science Building, built in 1967, have served generations of students. About $20 million will be utilized to renovate them by 2016.

"This is bright -- and a step into the future," Ball said.

After attending his first class Monday, Ball, who has switched from music and music education, then to chemistry and finally to general science at MTSU, said the totally different classroom atmosphere left him excited about taking science classes.

"You don't just feel like you're sitting in a chair or that you're a number. You feel like you're a student learning from a teacher," he said. "I feel like I can walk in and (the faculty member) will say, 'Hi, Kenneth. How are you today?' I've sat on the front row before and the professor didn't even know my name."

Freshman School of Nursing student Moesha Martin of Murfreesboro, a May graduate of Siegel High School, ventured into the building for the first time, waiting on an early afternoon chemistry class while sitting in the spacious first-floor atrium.

"This building is nicely made and very organized," Martin said. "There's a calm, cool, collected feel in the lobby (atrium). You feel like you can chill. It's laid back, with lots of light."

Walking down a hallway and discovering one of the many informal learning areas throughout the building, Martin liked the mobile chairs and electric outlets to charge laptops and cell phones.

"I really like this place," she said, adding that she expects to spend a lot of time in the building.

Third-year College of Basic and Applied Sciences Dean Bud Fischer, Office of the Provost official Watson Harris, faculty members and student workers greeted building newcomers with smiles and friendly replies to the students' needing directions to classrooms and labs.

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