Center for Interdisciplinary Collaboration, Engagement & Learning

The Center for Interdisciplinary Collaboration, Engagement & Learning (CICEL) project was developed to address the challenge of outdated facilities that no longer met the needs of today’s students and faculty.

Gildemeister and Watkins Halls have not experienced significant upgrades since their opening in 1964. Meanwhile the world has changed dramatically.

Teaching and learning styles have shifted, technology has become ubiquitous and essential, and new jobs and industries have developed that require more innovative thinking and collaboration.

Inspired by the design of Education Village, the CICEL project will create a gateway to the WSU main campus where students from Art & Design, Computer Science, and Mathematics & Statistics will form an active community to build skills and solutions—not just for today but also for the future.

The Basic Plan

In short, the plan is to demolish Gildemeister and Watkins Halls and build a new 73,000 square foot building.

The new CICEL building will provide more useful spaces for classrooms and labs, reduce operating costs, and create a new greenspace that invites the community into campus and meet sustainability goals. In fact, CICEL will be the first Net Zero Energy (NZE) and carbon neutral building in the Minnesota State system.

The project will cost an estimated $53 million and be funded through bond requests in the Minnesota legislature.

Design work is scheduled to begin Fall 2022, with project completion targeted for Fall 2026.

The Big Picture

CICEL is more than a new building on the WSU Campus. It is a creative solution to present problems that demonstrates a fresh vision for future of learning and engagement in the campus and community.

Here’s how the Center for Interdisciplinary Collaboration and Engaged Learning will bring new opportunities for students, faculty and community members.

Flexible & Innovative Spaces

The CICEL building will feature learning spaces to support a wide variety of learning styles and include active-learning classrooms, high-touch art/design and maker/fabrication studios, and high-tech and augmented reality labs.

The idea is to get more students, faculty, staff, and community members moving in and out of spaces that are designed to encourage active and creative learning, innovation, and experimentation.

Furthermore, by planning for such variety of use in the present, this project anticipates the type of flexible spaces that will remain useful in the decades to come.

Collaborative Learning Across Disciplines & Industries

CICEL will co-locate the Art & Design, Computer Science, and Mathematics & Statistics departments in a collaborative, sustainable, and healthy environment

This will encourage collaborative learning that brings students together from various programs, who bring different strengths and perspectives to solve complex problems and create innovative projects. They will work alongside each other, creating more chance encounters that spark meaningful interactions.

As more and more students engage in project-based and experiential learning, they will also be working with community partners, resulting in a win-win for everyone. Students gain opportunities to apply concepts to real situations. Community partners benefit from outside perspectives and resources to help get new projects off the ground.

The CICEL building will serve as the campus center for these academic partnerships with local and regional businesses and organizations. It will also host campus and community events designed to bring people together.

Integrated Support Services

CICEL will create learning, work, and social spaces designed for equity and access. People from all backgrounds, cultures, and abilities will feel comfortable and welcome. The most recent knowledge of equity design will be leveraged for this project.

To support our students, WSU’s TRIO program will be in the building to provide advising, tutoring, and career guidance for qualified students. By embedding TRIO services among classrooms and labs, it will be easier for students to take advantage of the many resources available. With easier access to support such as tutoring, advising and career services, students will improve their academic success and have a better student experience.

Likewise, for faculty and staff, having easy access to support from TLT will encourage and improve the use of technology across teaching environments.

Sustainability Commitment & Cost-Savings

For many years, WSU has practiced sustainability across campus in our classrooms and residence halls as well as everyday behaviors of students, faculty and staff.

In the CICEL project, WSU is doubling down on this commitment to sustainability. Specifically, the CICEL project:

  • Is the first Net Zero Energy (NZE) and carbon neutral building in the Minnesota State system
  • Follows through on the 2007 Climate Commitment
  • Contributes to WSU’s sustainability goals to pursue construction projects that are water balanced, low waste and toxin free
  • Creates a new greenspace on campus

Not only does a commitment to sustainability make sense for our environment, it also makes sense financially.

By constructing a building with new materials and better design, WSU will see significant savings in annual energy, water and operation costs by:

  • Reducing annual building operating costs by 50%
  • Avoiding 1.8 million pounds of carbon emissions
  • Reducing the annual campus energy use by 3.7%

The sustainable systems will show return on the investment in just 9.5 years—which is a remarkably short time for a large construction project.

In total, the cost of the new building will be $5 million less than renovating and $22 million less than maintaining Gildemeister and Watkins Halls over the lifetime of the building.