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Computer science surge sparks campus building boom

Ann Bednarz | March 24, 2015
College campuses across the U.S. are building new computer science facilities that encourage hands-on education and interdisciplinary research.

Research facilities and lab space are particularly important to STEM studies, and an outdated facility can give the impression that a program might not have access to cutting-edge resources. "I've had students go visit one top Ivy League school, and then go visit another top Ivy League school, and very clearly the facilities and the opportunities just don't match," Norman says. All things equal otherwise, "they'll pick the one that seems more developed, more up to date, for their particular interests," Norman says.

As record-breaking numbers of students apply to colleges and universities, campus construction projects are accelerating.

In 2014, colleges and universities spent $9.8 billion on the construction of new facilities, building additions and renovations, according to Dodge Data & Analytics, a market-research firm that specializes in construction industry data. That's up 20% from 2013, when the tally was $8.2 billion. In terms of square footage, construction volume at colleges and universities grew by 15% to 20.5 million square feet (compared to 17.8 million square feet in 2013).

The industry is still shy of its 2008 peak ($10.2 billion and 26.3 million square feet), but the gap is closing.

EYP has seen growth in STEM projects, in particular, over the last five years. "Year over year, if you look at the projects we're designing, STEM building continues to accelerate for us over almost all of our other project types. It's still a huge opportunity," Kamal says.

From STEM labs and research centers to maker spaces and entrepreneurial studios schools are transforming. "It's a really fertile time, especially for higher education, to be reimagining and rethinking how they're going to be delivering education," Thaler says.


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