COLLEGE STATION, TEXAS — As the fall semester wraps up, Texas A&M boasts the use of new cutting-edge technology and innovative learning spaces.
"This is going to be the new start of A&M," Brandy Cobbs, Facilities Coordinator of the Innovative Learning Classroom Building, said.
Construction for the $85 million three-story building started in 2018, years before both the country and Texas A&M knew that wide-open learning spaces would be essential in 2020.
The 118,000-square-foot building offers 2,200 seats across 10 classrooms
"This is going to lead the way in innovative learning and technology and having students collaborate with other students and having professors perform their material," Cobbs added.
The building will create more classroom space and implement new ways for students to learn both remotely and in-person, all while staying socially distant.
"We didn't design this building for COVID, but it was perfect for COVID. We have students online that can learn the exact same way in person and that's great," Cobbs said.
New unique classrooms and study spaces sit at the center of the building. Circled around are three arena-style "learning in the round" classrooms that showcase 360-degree panoramic views and reveal there is not a bad seat to be found.
"I was like, "Oh my God, these are extremely high standards for the rest of my classes. This is probably going to be the best classroom I've ever been in." I didn't expect anything to beat it. I love this building. I come in here to study all the time," said freshman Lauren Lindemann.
Lindemann says her first college experience was having a class in the Innovative Learning Classroom Building. When she is not in class, she can be found in the quiet study spaces.
"It helped a lot... especially with half the class half being on Zoom and half being in person. It really brought everyone into the classroom. You could see people on Zoom on the screen and then what was going on in class on another screen, so it was really easy to engage in what was going on in the classroom," she added.
Texas A&M is enhancing the learning experience, something students appreciate.
"I purposely chose in-person classes because they were going to be in this building... so this is really the only building I come on campus for. It feels more like college," said sophomore Hannah Rose Tong.
"Everybody loves it, especially the students. This is what this building was designed for, the students. For them to come and learn and study and be comfortable. It's just a great place to learn," Cobbs said.
Cobbs says Oregon State is where TAMU got the idea of having a building of this caliber, and says Oregon State is the only other institution that has a similar learning center.
The Innovative Learning Center is not major specific. Students from all classes and majors began taking classes in the building this fall.