On October 25th, the MBA Fellowship students were treated to a behind the scenes tour of the Discovery Building, organized by the Weinert Center for Entrepreneurship. The Discovery Building stands out on campus as an architectural gem. Its main floor boasts an array of botanics and aesthetic setups for studying or grabbing a cup of coffee. The building invites students to explore and appreciate its breathtaking beauty. Beyond its initial visual aesthetics, the building unfolds as a complex and multi-layered hub for innovation.
The Discovery Building serves as a key component in Madison’s research and development. The Discovery Building was designed to foster cross-disciplinary collaboration and intellectual synergy. Its architectural layout was strategically crafted to encourage a “mixing of ideas,” sparking innovation at the intersection of various fields. It was built with funding from three main distinct providers: WARF (Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation), John & Tashia Morgridge, and the State of Wisconsin. What is also incredibly fascinating about the building is it consists of two institutions: the privately funded Morgridge Institute for Research and the publicly funded Wisconsin Institute for Discovery. This unique arrangement aims to provide a space for research to be unrestricted of its constraints. A place for groundbreaking research to occur with no limits.
Starting on the lower level, we had the privilege of exploring the Morgridge Institute Fab Lab. This lab is equipped with 3D printers and design products that are crucial for bringing visions to life. The space plays a pivotal role in advancing in areas such as cancer research and medical product development. On the same level, there is a Virtual Reality Lab. This was originally a collaborative effort between nursing and industrial engineering. Its primary function is to immerse users in simulation to assess the impacts of products through scenarios that may occur in healthcare. The significance of this research extends beyond just medicine and virtually reality — as the Discovery Building is home to multiple hubs of research. We were able to see this as we traveled up to the upper levels, gaining a peek into the Entrepreneurial Science Lab where Professor Jon Eckhardt guides his staff in science and engineering designs essential for startups.
In the upper levels, the Discovery building unfolds with a variety of different Hubs such as the Design Hub, Data Hub, Illuminating Discovery Hub, and Microbiome Hub. These are places where instructors across campus do their research — building a foundation of the University’s commitment to foster innovation and the entrepreneurship spirit among its students. What is also incredible about this building is the commitment to our sustainability through repurposed logs in wall and desks designs from Wisconsin’s Lake Superior, as well as innovative designs, such a spiral staircase resembling a DNA sequence. This intentionality showcases a dedication to our Wisconsin roots of both environmental and conscious creativity.
This tour was led Dan Olszewski, director of the Weinert Center for Entrepreneurship, who provided an insider’s perspective on the building’s history and significance. It is clear to see that the Discovery Building is more than a physical structure, embodying the Wisconsin Idea that encourages relentless curiosity and intellectual confidence. It stands out as a vital space for students with an entrepreneurial spirit, inspiring purposeful action for the betterment of our communities.