Indiana State University’s board of trustees on Friday approved a plan to request $66 million from the state for renovation and expansion of the Technology Annex Building, which was constructed in 1980. Funding for the College of Technology capital project would be considered as part of the 2023-25 biennial budget by the Indiana General Assembly during its 2023 budget writing session.

The project would modernize space for a Center for Technology Engineering & Design. The plan includes a two-story, 30,000-square-foot addition and demolition of 17,000 square feet.

Interior improvements to the adjacent Myers Technology Center are also part of the project.

Technology, engineering and advanced manufacturing are critical components to the Indiana economy, said ISU President Deborah Curtis. “For Indiana to compete on a global scale, it needs a strong, well-educated and highly skilled workforce.”

ISU offers a bachelor of science in engineering, a relatively new program there, with concentrations in civil, mechanical and industrial. The field is in demand in the state, and updated facilities are needed, Curtis said.

“That space is ideal for us to redefine with state-of-the-art equipment and facilities to send out more of those engineers the state needs,” she said.

ISU chose the project after careful consideration of various campus buildings and factoring in growth potential for key university programs that are aligned with state workforce priorities.

“These are the types of jobs the state of Indiana desperately needs,” said ISU trustee Troy Woodruff, who described the proposed project as “an important investment.”

According to Diann McKee, senior vice president for finance and administration, existing lab space is inadequate to provide the academic instruction that is necessary for the engineering program.

ISU’s engineering program differs from others in the state in that “we try and train broadly in engineering,” with the ability to concentrate in areas such as civil and mechanical, said Chris Olsen, ISU provost. Before ISU offered an engineering degree, its research showed “a real need for generalists,” he said.

ISU’s program also provides flexibility going forward, and it is looking at a concentration in environmental engineering, a fast growing field, Olsen said.

“We think it’s very good for the job market and it’s certainly good for our graduates,” he said.

One area of emphasis will be an expansion of interdisciplinary STEM programs that draw students into new fields.

McKee stated that ISU has a long history of renovating existing structures on campus as opposed to building new facilities.

“This allows us to continue to be good stewards of Indiana taxpayer dollars while preserving and enhancing our very well-constructed buildings,” McKee said.

The capital budget request will now be submitted to the Indiana Commission for Higher Education and the Indiana State Budget Agency.

Pass/fail option

In a separate matter, trustees approved a pass/fail grade option to be implemented in fall 2023.

According to Olsen, it will give students more flexibility to take classes in subjects they want to explore without affecting their grade-point average. It also would assist students when academic performance may have suffered due to an unexpected disruption beyond their control.

The pass-fail option would be available to undergraduate students pursuing their first baccalaureate degree at ISU, who could use the option for a maximum of 16 credits.

A passing grade would not fulfill a prerequisite requirement when a grade higher than a D- is required.
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