COLLEGEVILLE — An Ursinus graduate who helped develop such technologies as 3D printing was among the more than hundreds who gathered on the Ursinus College campus to dedicated its new $29 million science building.
The college’s $29 million Innovation and Discovery Center was dedicated Saturday during a special public event celebrating the new interdisciplinary facility which, for the first time in the college’s history, combines science, policy and entrepreneurship under one roof.
More than 300 people, including members of the Ursinus and neighboring communities, as well as public officials and elected state leaders, gathered for the official grand opening.
Joe DeSimone, CEO and co-founder of leading technology manufacturer Carbon and a 1986 graduate of Ursinus College, delivered remarks during the dedication.
“The IDC is where a lot of things are coming together, where disciplines are converging,” DeSimone said. “Solutions to some of the most complicated problems we have today involve disciplines coming together. We do that well here at Ursinus, where a broader contextual understanding — a quest — happens. That’s where the frontier is now.”
DeSimone, globally recognized for his achievements in developing and commercializing advanced technologies in several cutting-edge fields such as 3D printing, precision medicine, nanoparticle fabrication and green chemistry, discussed “the power of innovation” and related how Ursinus’s IDC is a game-changer in preparing liberal arts students for jobs in these fields.
The dedication was presided over by Rob Wonderling, president of the Chamber of Commerce of Greater Philadelphia and chair of the Ursinus Board of Trustees. Remarks were also delivered by Sen. John Rafferty R-24th Dist.) and U.S. Rep. Ryan Costello, R-6th Dist.).
The IDC is designed to reflect the college’s liberal arts legacy and further empower its faculty to educate future leaders in science and other professions as they prepare for the careers of the future. It includes collaborative spaces to further cultivate the concept of a shared, common experience, as well as technology-enhanced active learning classrooms; flexible laboratories that are easily configurable to suit specific needs of a research project; and open meeting and work spaces that bring together students and faculty from every discipline.
“The IDC truly is a building of the future,” Ursinus President Brock Blomberg said. “Not only does it have a contemporary look, but it fosters science learning across disciplines, something that is essential to our changing world. It is a place where students can learn traditional concepts of biology, while also thinking about ethical practice, policy and the greater good.”
The IDC leads the way in how a new generation of liberal arts undergraduates pursues scientific knowledge.
“For many years, Ursinus has been recognized as a college with an uncommon strength in the sciences amplified by its liberal arts context,” Blomberg said. “The IDC enables us to further embrace that identity — providing new equipment and facilities that advance science education from a distinctly liberal arts perspective.”
The IDC houses Ursinus’s Parlee Center for Science and the Common Good, which provides opportunities for students to become civically engaged scientific leaders, and the U-Imagine Center for Integrative and Entrepreneurial Studies, which encourages students to exercise innovation, leadership, imagination and creativity.
The dedication event included building tours, where Ursinus alumni discussed the importance of innovation and entrepreneurship to a liberal arts education. A portrait of the late Ursinus President Bobby Fong, a passionate advocate of the liberal arts and learning across disciplines, was unveiled on the first floor of the IDC.
The IDC is supported by funds from the college’s Keep the Promise comprehensive campaign. The 42,500-square-foot facility is located on the Ursinus campus off Main Street and Ninth Avenue and physically connects to previously separate science buildings, Pfahler and Thomas halls.
One of the nation’s “Colleges that Change Lives,” Ursinus College is a residential undergraduate liberal arts college with 1,500 students that is widely recognized for its first-year Common Intellectual Experience. Founded in 1869, Ursinus provides a rigorous curriculum that re-envisions a liberal education and presents students with an inquiry-driven academic experience.
Ursinus’s $100 million Keep the Promise campaign culminates during the college’s sesquicentennial anniversary in 2019-20. The tree-lined, 170-acre campus is located in Collegeville.