Committed to Leading the Way in STEM
In fall of 2021, Gonzaga opened the John and Joan Bollier Family Center for Integrated Science and Engineering – ushering in an new era of collaboration, reflection and problem-solving among STEM students and faculty.
Over the past nine years, applications for STEM-related majors at Gonzaga have doubled, making up nearly half of all applications. According to Washington STEM, jobs in these fields "make up the majority of projected family-sustaining job openings and will be the hardest to fill with local talent, given the credentials they require." More than 79,000 jobs will be on the table in Washington by 2030 for credentialed STEM professionals, and it's up to us to ensure there are Jesuit-educated individuals ready to fill them. Gonzaga has always been committed to being a leader, and in this moment, when our world is faced with critical problems that need immediate, creative and collaborative solutions from STEM professionals, it's vital that Gonzaga provide the kind of education those who will have a positive impact through a balance of heart and mind are seeking.
Q&A with the Deans
Annmarie Caño, Dean of the College of Arts & Sciences
Karlene Hoo, Dean of the School of Engineering & Applied Science
Q: What will this facility allow Gonzaga to do academically that would not otherwise be possible (and why does that matter)?
“With more and modern space and equipment, we can serve our growing student body to make them competitive in the global market space. We can assist faculty in research/scholarly endeavors while providing more opportunities for engineering and science students, faculty and staff to explore collaborations, share equipment, co-supervise student research, co-teach existing and leading-edge subjects. We can attract research-minded faculty along with a higher quality and more diverse student body, and to allow Gonzaga to take the next step in its STEM journey.”
“In the last few years, we have been fortunate to hire and retain faculty and staff in STEM who are exceptional mentors to our undergraduate students. However, the growth of our faculty and of our majors has outpaced the growth in our STEM research and teaching space. The Bollier Center will help address our basic needs to provide high quality equipment and space to our community. But the benefits of the The Bollier Center lie not only in having more space. Collaboration is built into the design of The Bollier Center, which creates the opportunity for more interaction among faculty and students across disciplines, whether it is to develop and pitch research ideas, work on class projects, study, or meet new friends. The collaboration spaces also afford an opportunity for student affinity groups and their allies to gather and find a supportive environment, which can be a challenge for women, BIPOC students, and LGBTQ+ students in STEM.”
Q: What is the national/global landscape in fields this facility will impact and how will it uniquely position Gonzaga students within them?
“There is great need for multidisciplinary and collaborative approaches to solve some of the greatest problems that face us in the world, especially the ones that disproportionately affect marginalized communities including water and environmental quality, chronic disease and mobility. The Bollier Center will support collaborative problem-solving across disciplines that is aligned with our mission to educate 'people for others,' who are intentional about using their STEM expertise for the greater good.”
“The Bollier Center provides the space to allow for a modern multi-disciplinary curriculum to be implemented that can address the myriad of global challenges posed by the water-food-energy-planet nexus.”
Q: What does research provide students and why does it matter, specifically at a school like Gonzaga?
“Research is intended to develop critical thinking, to establish facts and then to question these facts; but at the end of the day, it is to generate new knowledge. New knowledge can be transformational or incremental; it may be impactful immediately or it may take years for the new knowledge to be impactful. Research at the undergraduate level is very different than at the graduate level. At GU, the research experience equips students with non-traditional, hands-on learning, a means of exploration of a real-world problem under the tutelage of faculty or research staff, and often, the student will realize they have a talent that should be further developed.”
“Undergraduate research is considered a 'high impact practice,' one that helps transform the educational experience from the abstract to the experiential and applied. Not only do students who are engaged in research learn more deeply about the disciplines they study and the methods through which we seek truth, but they also develop lasting friendships with peers and mentors who value their success. It’s a holistic educational experience that fits with our mission as a Jesuit, Catholic and humanistic institution.”
“The collection of STEM-focused research and teaching space within these buildings will create an extraordinary 'STEM corridor' on Gonzaga’s campus. I’m excited to see the energy that faculty, staff and students will bring to campus in this collective space, and the ways in which we’ll be able to build new connections with industry and nonprofit community partners as we go about this work. With this STEM expansion, we will also more effectively engage and share our expertise with local K-12 school teachers and students through Science in Action and other programs.”
“Herak labs, classrooms and hallway spaces need timely refurbishing for Herak to play its role in this quadrangle of STEM 'attractors.' There is no reason to not foster the highest quality combination of STEM and computer science, and to promote untapped areas of bioengineering programs with intentional embedded components of innovation and entrepreneurship.”