By Elina Shapiro – Contributing Writer

UMF’s Technology Commons is being renovated to be more student and faculty friendly; it will now have more office space for staff in the Global Education and internship departments, added classrooms/co-labs and a lounge for students to study and collaborate with each other.

This project is being done in two halves. “We started the construction late spring/early summer, and because of money involved, we’re kind of ‘phasing it.’ So right now we’re going to do the first phase which is the right hand side of the hallway,” said Laurie Gardner, the chief business officer at UMF.

The right hand side, which will include the lounge as well as co-lab space and some offices, should be done within the next month. “Knock on wood, I am hoping, depending on furniture, we should probably see that open mid to late October,” said Gardner.  

Because the left side includes finding a place for the computer lab, that part will take longer to start. “I would love to get that done soon, but we have to re-locate a classroom first. That’s going to take some time to do,” said Gardner. “Worst case scenario, we’re looking at this time next year for it to be open 100%. Best case, we’ll be able to do it quicker.”

The tech commons has been a popular spot on campus for students to do homework and print. “I have been there [to work] on assignments, I’ve gone there for classes, and I’ve gone there just to print out assignments for other classes, so it’s a pretty universal, ‘one stop shop’,” said Bryan Eldridge, a junior Elementary Education major. “I think that it’s a great spot for both students and faculty and I think [the Tech Commons] is very heavily used by everyone on campus.”

Many students utilized the Tech Commons when other places weren’t conducive to studying. “I am wondering when it’s going to be all done,” said Kelsey Dunn, a senior Early Childhood Education major. “It was a place I’d get the majority of my homework done. Having Tech Commons open is a good backup for when the study room [in the residence hall] is occupied and the library is closed.”

The goal of renovating the Technology Commons is to make it a space where all of campus can mingle. The renovations will include the addition of a lounge, more classrooms/co-labs, offices for student advancement as well as offices for global studies.

“[We are] making it a space where students can come and work together and create opportunities for themselves” said Laurie Gardner, the chief business officer at UMF. “We’re going to develop, what I think, will be an exciting area.”