On October 20th, the Weinert Center for Entrepreneurship arranged a behind-the-scenes tour of the Discovery Building for the current MBA Fellowship in Enterprise Development students. The Discovery Building has stood as a cornerstone for the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s cross-departmental research studies since it’s completion in 2010.
On our field trip, we were fortunate to have Patricia Pointer as our tour guide. Patricia is a Multimedia Designer who works closely with other staff across the Discovery Building to promote its mission.
The Discovery Building is a unique building on campus because the research mindset is intertwined into every structural element. Whether it be the sustainable architecture, research communities or floor layouts, this building is truly an innovation within itself. One main focal point of this design is the Town Center located on the first floor of the building. The Town Center is designed to inspire new research ideas by making the space flexible and functional. Open to all, this area encourages people to interact with the UW research facilities regardless of their interests or studies. The main floor is optimized for stimulating research potential with such features as audiovisual services, free Wi-Fi, and customizable workspaces. This innovative idea is even reflected in the architecture of the space. Modern and innovative approaches are implemented in the design of every inch of this one-of-a-kind building.
The Discovery Building is a state-of-the-art physical embodiment of the Badger research community’s mission of solving global and local problems with research-based innovation. There are two main institutes housed in the Discovery Building: The Wisconsin Institute of Discovery (WID) and The Morgridge Institute for Research. We were able to see inside the WID labs and workplaces housed on different floors of the Discovery Building. WID is an institute that connects interdisciplinary researchers from different departments to serve the local and global community. In addition, Patricia showed us around the Morgridge Institute for Research which is a research facility that is working to discover biological approaches to advance human health. Our group was able to get a closer look inside the institute’s facilities throughout the Discovery Building.
We first traveled down to the basement to get an inside look at the research currently underway at the Discovery Building. The first lab we encountered was the Morgridge Institute’s Fab Lab which is a “research and development space with unmatched capabilities in rapid prototyping and complex fabrication.” This area is designed to allow inventors to get the facilities needed to see their ideas through from conception to creation. From the outside, you are able to witness all of the complexities of the research process at work. From cancer research to new surgery innovations, this lab is making strides in medical developments that will benefit people around the globe.
After learning about the work being doing in the Fab Lab, we were then taken to the WID Virtual Environments lab also located in the basement. The Virtual Environments Lab is home to world-class researchers aiding technological advancements and real-world applications of virtual reality research. One highlight from the lab was the 6-sided CAVE VR system used for various initiatives such as crime investigation, product development, and so much more.
We then landed on the main floor where we were able to see WID’s Discovery Hubs that focus on generating new collaborative research opportunities. There are four main hubs currently housed in the Discovery Building: The Data Science Hub, The Epigenetics Hub, The Illuminating Discovery Hub and The Microbiome Hub. These hubs serve as a bridge between researchers, community leaders, and the public generating new ideas for on campus research.
All of these hubs housed at the Discovery Building offer something special to the University’s community. The Data Science Hub helps educate and implement different data science initiatives through community events, workshops, and consultations. The Epigenetics Hub is primarily focused on connecting inter-disciplinary researchers that work with the growing fields of gene activity and expression. The Illuminating Discovery Hub facilitates inter-disciplinary communication regarding scientific research and discourse. Entrepreneurship Science Lab, under the leadership of Professor Jon Eckhardt, is part of the Illuminating Discovery Hub. The final hub is the Microbiome Hub which concentrates on science and engineering advancements in the studies of the human microbiome.
Overall, the Discovery Building is an innovative space that is designed specifically for collaborative research work. At its core, this building represents an imaginative approach of fostering a research-based environment that benefits all of the community. Even the building itself was built with the goal of innovation in mind. Every inch of the space was designed strategically considering the people and environment which makes the Discovery Building a must-see for any entrepreneurial student on campus.