I love summer at Rose-Hulman because it gives us a chance to prepare new initiatives for the next academic year. The same holds true this summer. Even though most of our students may be away, there’s no shortage of activity still taking place.
If you’ve driven through campus since commencement, you’ve likely noticed work is fully underway on our new academic building. This exciting 70,000-square-foot structure will offer flexible learning and design spaces, a prototyping lab, student workspaces, chemistry labs and much more. The building is scheduled to open in the fall of 2021.
Work is also happening on a new outdoor pavilion adjacent to the Mussallem Union. The pavilion will allow students to dine and socialize outdoors under cover. There’s audiovisual equipment and plenty of seating for special events and presentations. And the space will include an outdoor grill. It’s set to open during Homecoming weekend, which is Oct. 4 and 5.
Also during Homecoming weekend we’ll formally unveil our new synthetic turf field at Cook Stadium. This new surface is more consistent with what a large portion of our incoming student-athletes have played on and will give them more opportunities to practice while adding some real color and beauty to campus. It also presents us with opportunities to host more camps and other athletic events. Football fans will get a sneak preview of the field during the Fightin’ Engineers home opener against Mount Union on Saturday, Sept. 7.
Speaking of camps, our Operation Catapult summer camp is in full swing. Now in its 52nd year, Catapult gives rising high school seniors a taste of the hands-on STEM experiences taught by Rose faculty. We also embarked this year on an immersive new weeklong camp for rising high school juniors, called “Project Select,” where students have the chance to connect their math and science knowledge to modern engineering applications.
Summer is also a great time here because it gives our faculty a chance to dig in and prepare for another demanding academic year. We pride ourselves on the rigor of a Rose-Hulman education, and our faculty work hard to remain experts in their respective fields while at the same time providing students the support they need to succeed. That requires a lot of summer preparation. In addition, our faculty are extremely active in a variety of professional development conferences and activities as well as research during the summer months.
Just this past spring, I witnessed firsthand the excellence of our faculty by sitting in on more than a dozen classes. The various course lessons aside, my main takeaway was that we are still recruiting the nation’s best science and engineering students and providing them with world-class faculty. These faculty are extremely creative as well, as I witnessed professors singing and dancing to illustrate mechanical engineering concepts, using humor and creative props to focus on an issue, and all the while making it a point to call on each and every student, by name, during a fifty-minute class.
Rose-Hulman is a great place to be year-round, but summer is a special time for taking stock, setting new goals and powering up for another successful year. We’re proud of the standard of excellence we’ve achieved since our founding in 1874, and we look forward to the upcoming academic year as another opportunity to be a progressive and dynamic part of the Terre Haute community.
Robert A. Coons is the president of Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology