ISELF: Cutting edge science/engineering facility under construction

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

ISELF 3-D Rendering
ISELF 3-D Rendering Shoemaker Hall renovations 

The $45 million science and engineering building under construction west of the Wick Science Building will put St. Cloud State at the vanguard of the interdisciplinary research movement in higher education.

The Integrated Science and Engineering Laboratory Facility, or ISELF, will open for classes and research in fall of 2013.

“ISELF will move St. Cloud State into the forefront of interdisciplinary education and the discovery of integrated solutions to complex practical problems,”said President Earl H. Potter III.

The university has spent $2.5-million planning ISELF, including $900,000 from the 2008 Legislature and $1.6-million in savings from the 2009 Brown Hall renovation. The 2011 Legislature appropriated about $42.3 million through the capital bond process.

The 100,000 square-foot research and teaching facility will be at Eighth Street South and Second Avenue on the site of the 801 Building. Classrooms and labs are slated to serve mostly upper-level and graduate-level science, technology, engineering, mathematics, medical technology and radiology classes.

Research in ISELF will support Minnesota companies that are global leaders in medical devices, pharma/biologics, animal science, bio-agriculture and renewable energy. St. Cloud State faculty and students will be able to do more collaborative research with businesses and earn more National Science Foundation grants, said David DeGroote, dean of the College of Science and Engineering.

“ISELF is about putting people in the same physical space to interact and collaborate around projects that are crossdisciplinary,” DeGroote said. “That’s how work gets done in the real world.”

"ISELF is about putting people in the same physical space to interact and collaborate around projects that are cross-disciplinary."

- David DeGroote

The building’s large, flexible spaces, with movable benches and cabinetry, will promote collaboration and break down barriers among academic disciplines, according to DeGroote.

The facility is also a response to rising enrollment in 10 science, technology, engineering and mathematics majors. Those majors saw enrollments jump from 749 to 1,032 between fall 2006 and fall 2010, according research by the university’s Office of Strategy, Planning & Effectiveness.

ISELF is the crown jewel in St. Cloud State’s three-part Science Initiative, which includes the $14.5-million addition to the Robert H. Wick Science Building and the $13.6-million renovation of Brown Hall, both completed in 2009.

From start to finish, the ISELF project received unwavering support from St. Cloud area legislators, according to Potter.

Potter said he is thankful for the support of alumni such as Joel Goergen ’86, former chief scientist at Force Ten Networks in San Jose, Calif., and business partners including Medtronic in Fridley and MicroBioLogics, Inc. in St. Cloud.

University officials developed ISELF in partnership with Vice Chancellor Laura King and the staff at Minnesota State Colleges and Universities in St. Paul.

ISELF was designed by Rafferty Rafferty Tollefson Lindeke Architects, St. Paul. The construction manager at-risk is St. Paul-based McGough.

The $531 million bonding bill signed in July by Gov. Mark Dayton sells state bonds to fund capital improvements, including ISELF.

Campus construction will aid local economy

Construction at St. Cloud State is delivering a much needed shot-in-the-arm to the Central Minnesota economy.

A $6.5 million residence hall renovation completed in August,a $44.8 million science and engineering building just breaking ground, and a planned $31.1 million hockey center expansion and renovation create an economic multiplier effect that is boosting investment, consumer spending and employment, according to university officials.

The St. Cloud area is in a fragile recovery from the recession that began locally in the fall of 2008, according to the authors of the St. Cloud Area Quarterly Business Report, professors Rich MacDonald and King Banaian.

The construction sector in Stearns and Benton counties remains depressed. St. Cloud State economists Banaian and MacDonald report a 7 percent decline in construction employment between April 2010 and April 2011.

The largest of the campus construction projects, the $44.8 million Integrated Science and Engineering Laboratory Facility (ISELF), is slated to sustain 900-950 on-site jobs through early 2013, according to Dan McKay of McGough, the St. Paul-based construction manager at-risk.

In addition, ISELF is expected to directly support nearly 320 off-site jobs and indirectly impact another 150 off-site jobs, McKay said.

The smallest project, the recently completed $6.5 million renovation of the north wing of the Shoemaker residence hall, employed a Rogers general contractor and a dozen subcontractors from the St. Cloud area, according to Dan Pedersen, director of residential life.

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