ISELF ready in 2013

Thursday, July 21, 2011

A photo, looking east, of the 801 Building, which will be moved to make way for the ISELF building

The 801 Building will be moved to make way for the Integrated Science and Engineering Laboratory Facility. In the background is the Wick Science Building addition. Photo by Neil Andersen.

A drawing, looking southeast, of the Integrated Science and Engineering Laboratory Facility Aerial-view drawing of ISELF A photo, looking east, of the 801 Building, which will be moved to make way for the ISELF building 

A new $44.8 million science and engineering building will open for classes and research fall of 2013, according to St. Cloud State officials.

Construction of the Integrated Science and Engineering Laboratory Facility, or ISELF, is expected to begin this fall, thanks to the capital improvements bonding bill (PDF) passed by the Legislature and signed July 20 by Gov. Mark Dayton.

“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. “This is a great day for our university.”

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 bonding bill provides about $42.3 million.

ISELF will be the largest single construction project, measured in dollars, in Minnesota State Colleges and Universities (MnSCU) system history, according to university officials.

The construction project will create 900-950 on-site jobs, directly support nearly 320 off-site jobs and indirectly impact another 150 off-site jobs, according to Dan McKay of McGough, the St. Paul-based construction manager at-risk.

Interdisciplinary research

ISELF places St. Cloud State in the forefront of the interdisciplinary research movement in higher education.

Michael Harris, a University of Alabama assistant professor of higher education, examined the movement in a 2010 study:

 "The strongest display of sustaining commitment by universities with extensive interdisciplinary engagement was evident through the construction of interdisciplinary facilities  .  .  . Through the institutional master plan, these universities explicitly defined the need for flexible research facilities and an interdisciplinary infrastructure, one that fostered engaged social interaction among researchers." 

"This will be a college managed facility rather than a departmentally managed facility," said David DeGroote, dean of the College of Science and Engineering.

The 100,000 square-foot research and teaching facility will be built at 8th Street South and 2nd 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 cross-disciplinary," DeGroote said. "That's how work gets done in the real world."

View the building's pre-design document (PDF) for details about how the building's large, flexible spaces, with movable benches and cabinetry, will promote collaboration and break down barriers among academic disciplines.

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 crowning 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, chief scientist at Force Ten Networks in San Jose, Calif., the St. Cloud Area Chamber of Commerce and business partners, including Medtronic in Fridley and MicroBioLogics, Inc., St. Cloud, and the Central Minnesota legislative delegation.

University officials developed ISELF in partnership with Vice Chancellor Laura King and the staff at MnSCU offices in St. Paul.

ISELF was designed by Rafferty Rafferty Tollefson Lindeke Architects, St. Paul.

The bonding bill (PDF) calls for the State of Minnesota to borrow $531 million for capital improvements by selling state bonds.

In addition to the $42.3 million for ISELF, St. Cloud State will share in a $30 million building preservation appropriation to the MnSCU system, for roof replacements, mechanical and electrical system repairs, and health and safety improvements, according to John Frischmann, the university's facilities construction coordinator.

MnSCU, which is composed of seven four-year universities and 24 two-year colleges, received $1.09 billion in system funding for the 2012 and 2013 fiscal years. View the higher education bill (PDF).


- Jeff Wood

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