Science Central has started a capital campaign to install northeast Indiana’s only public planetarium.

“The project is expected to cost about $2 million, and we are currently just over $1 million in pledges,” the facility said in a statement.

The project’s projected budget includes demolition, construction, equipment, installation, staffing, startup and long-term operating costs, and plans call for completing it within two years.

The planetarium will be a permanent, 1,500-square-foot exhibit in a currently unused part of Science Central.

“We will incorporate the original starball from the University of Saint Francis and a modern digital system to show the sky from our position here on Earth, as well as images from our solar system and beyond,” the statement said.

The Edwin Schouweiler Planetarium at the University of Saint Francis was scheduled to close at the end of May 2016 and around that time officials said they were discussing the future of its equipment with Science Central.

The university and museum are based in Fort Wayne. A May 2016 USF statement said no decisions had been made, but Martin Fisher, executive director of the Clinton Street museum, had expressed interest in the equipment for program expansion.

“Astronomy-education is a strong component of our mission, as we provide exhibits and programs for our area schools, teachers, scouts and the general public,” he said in the statement. “We are determining the feasibility of expanding to include planetarium shows. There are quite a few considerations involved in the decision.”

Science Central’s planetarium will integrate with hundreds of other exhibits, programs and activities there. In addition to improving the visitor experience, it will be used as an educational resource for students, teachers, scouts, and science camps.

For more information or to schedule an interview related to arranging corporate or foundation planetarium project sponsorships, contact Fisher at mfisher@sciencecentral.org.

Trine invests in new school of computing

Trine University plans to launch a school of computing during the fall of 2019 to help meet demand in the region for employees with information technology, networking, and software and hardware development skills.

The academic school will be housed in an $8.5 million expansion Trine has planned for Fawick Hall on its main campus in Angola.

The software engineering program at the college will be part of the academic school, as will a revitalized computer science and information technology major. A statement on plans for it said the major would feature cybersecurity, health informatics and web development.

“We are extremely fortunate to have strong advisory guidance on our curriculum from a group of leaders from the northeast Indiana region who have dedicated a great amount of time and energy to help us shape the curriculum,” John Shannon, vice president for academic affairs, said in an email.

“The way the concentrations were developed and the way in which they will be delivered are direct results of industry and faculty collaboration. This positions the computer science and information technology program and all of the programs in the school of computing to deliver graduates who fit the current and future needs of the region.”

Curriculum and labs for the new school of computing have been designed to allow greater collaboration among computer science students and the students and faculty of other disciplines, Shannon said.

This will provide greater synergy for educational experiences within the collaborating majors and give computing students access to the latest technologies, he said.

For example, better collaborative opportunities for the computer science and information technology program will “open pathways to build synergy with the school’s already established world-class software engineering and computer engineering programs.

“The addition of shared learning labs and maker spaces that can be accessed by multiple disciplines will add value by bringing students together and affording more opportunities for idea sharing,” Shannon said. “These new interdisciplinary learning spaces will give all our Trine University students opportunities to share ideas, grow and learn together.”

The expansion was approved at Trine’s Oct. 5 board meeting and fundraising has started for it. In addition to an airy, glass-walled exterior, it will feature:

• state-of-the-art technology supporting new classrooms and labs, including an artificial intelligence/virtual reality lab;

• movable walls in some classroom areas to allow for greater flexibility;

• an active learning lab with a maker space to foster creativity;

• expanded faculty office space; and

• bright, open spaces for collaboration and conversation, including a new gathering point and cafe available to the entire campus.

The new school of computing will contain the bachelor of science degree with a major in computer science and information technology, which Shannon said has been expanded to contain a concentration in health informatics.

“The addition of a space that gives our students the best opportunity to explore solutions to the ever-growing need for more innovative ways to infuse AI into the area of healthcare will strengthen our ability to provide quality graduates to the northeast Indiana region and beyond,” he said.

“Through the outstanding generosity of our alumni, friends, and local and state government, Trine University has been able to add several new signature facilities to our campus as well as provide functional, visually appealing additions and renovations to existing buildings,” Earl Brooks II, Trine’s president, said. “This new expansion, which will provide critical space and technological support for the school of computing, will reflect the same quality and aesthetics demonstrated in other recent projects on the Trine campus.”

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