The University of Nevada, Reno’s new Davidson Mathematics and Science Center will provide an integrated and centralized 21st-century environment for mathematics and science education. Site preparation to accommodate construction of the 105,000-square-foot, $50 million building began this spring and will be celebrated with a ceremonial groundbreaking event June 17, from 11 a.m. to noon.
When the building opens in August 2010, it will represent the first new capital project for the natural sciences for the campus in nearly 40 years and will be a hub for student learning. Because science and math instruction is part of the University’s core curriculum, it is estimated that 80 percent of the student body will have at least one class in the center. It will also enhance the University’s experiential learning, especially for undergraduate students, and provide a centralized location for the College of Science, its students, departments, faculty and administration.
Jeff Thompson, interim dean of the College of Science and longtime Department of Physics faculty member, said the building will “provide a collaborative environment where students and faculty will work and learn together in a modern science-oriented setting. It’s going to be a place where students will learn in the best classrooms possible, from great faculty who will encourage participation of undergraduates in research and scholarship — a definite competitive advantage for our university.”
The center is named for educational innovators and founders of the Davidson Academy of Nevada, Jan and Bob Davidson, whose $16 million gift to the University included an $11 million investment in the Mathematics and Science Center. With the generous investment from the Davidsons and others, the University successfully raised the $18 million capital investment to meet the required match of a $32 million appropriation by the Nevada Legislature. The Davidson Academy, which is based at the University, is the country’s only free, public specialized school for exceptionally gifted middle and high school students on a college campus. It opens its third year of instruction in August in the Jot Travis Building.
The Davidson Mathematics and Science Center is on the southeast side of campus on the former site of the University’s greenhouses, behind the Paul Laxalt Mineral Research Building. PENTA Building Group was awarded the contract to build the state-of-the-art teaching and research facility, which will have the following features:
- 27 modern teaching laboratories, each with the capacity for 20 to 24 students, and four large classrooms, each with the capacity for 75 students.
- 500-seat Nell J. Redfield Foundation Auditorium with interactive technology.
- Wireless Internet access throughout the entire facility.
- Enhanced environment controls and space for culture preparation in eight biological science laboratories.
- Increased glass hood space for improved observation and greater control over experiments in seven general chemistry laboratories.
- Large meeting areas with whiteboards, allowing students and teaching assistants to interact with each other outside classrooms and laboratories.
- Electronic interfaces, information technology platforms, projectors, audio-visual and presentation equipment in all laboratories and classrooms.
- A 50-seat computational classroom — the largest on campus — to teach students the use of software for data analysis and visualization.