University of Delaware
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By Charles Riordan
UD Research Office
Charles Riordan

Charles Riordan Vice Provost for Research

That hip-hop anthem I'm channeling in the title starts off talking about collaboration and invention, which also rings true for our "Ice"—the Interdisciplinary Science and Engineering Laboratory, or ISE Lab, set to open this fall semester. As the largest academic building project in UD's history, it will fundamentally transform how our research university prepares students as collaborators and innovators, ready to address the challenges of the future.

ISE Lab's classrooms and instructional laboratories are designed to leverage UD's leadership in problem-based learning, providing flexible spaces and movable furniture, augmented with the latest technologies to optimize collaborative learning. Faculty groups have been meeting for several years to revamp the curriculum to be delivered in these new spaces. Over time, students from all disciplines will have the opportunity to take classes in ISE Lab.

Higher education is aflutter with terms such as collaborative learning, massive open online courses (MOOCs), flipped classrooms and the like. The learning spaces in ISE Lab also are designed to afford faculty opportunities to "experiment" in the delivery of curricula to best suit the changing learning approaches of college students and to most effectively prepare our students with the skills necessary to succeed in the workforce.

The research wing of ISE Lab will be home to UD's Energy (UDEI) and Environmental (DENIN) Institutes, the Catalysis Center for Energy Innovation, faculty research laboratories, and core research facilities for nanofabrication, microscopy and materials characterization. Faculty, staff and students from four colleges and nine departments will be co-located in the building around these research thrusts.

The laboratories are designed to figuratively and literally "remove the walls" between and among research efforts. Providing unprecedented opportunities for collaboration will ensure that discoveries made in the laboratory are quickly and effectively translated into classroom curricula and to the marketplace, where appropriate. Additionally, UD's strength in policy will seek to ensure that public policy is advanced to align with the latest research developments.

The core facilities will provide research capabilities necessary to recruit and retain the best faculty and students and will serve to augment efforts to draw in collaborators from other academic institutions and the private sector.

Built to meet the U.S. Green Building Council's LEED Silver Certification standards, UD's commitment to sustainability and energy efficiency are on display in ISE Lab from the courtyard featuring native plants and the water retention basins (the latter to eliminate stormwater runoff), to the three green roofs. Classes across campus will be able to access ISE Lab's energy generation and consumption profile as real-time data.

At a time when the federal government is cutting back on its investments in research and infrastructure via the "blunt instrument" that is sequestration, it is inspiring to note that the University of Delaware, its alumni, friends and other benefactors are stepping up in tangible ways to enhance the research and learning infrastructure necessary to prepare our faculty and students to compete in a global marketplace.

We invite you to visit ISE Lab this fall to see the University's interdisciplinary research and education leadership in action. It's certain to become a new hub of student activity on campus.