Founders Hall and Innovation Hall: A hub for STEM in the Innovation Quad

The addition of two new buildings to Elon's Innovation Quad creates new homes for the Engineering and Physics departments as well as spaces for multidisciplinary collaboration.

The start of a new academic year at Elon University comes with the introduction of two new critical components in the Innovation Quad — Founders Hall and Innovation Hall.

With a combined 65,000 square feet, the two buildings are now home to the Engineering and Physics departments and represent a new hub for STEM studies on Elon’s campus. With a wide range of labs, classrooms and collaborative spaces, Founders Hall and Innovation Hall will be home to multidisciplinary education and innovation, attracting students and faculty from across campus.

Announced in 2020 and completed this summer, the Innovation Quad, or IQ, will be a new central component to the university’s campus that over time will include academic, residential and dining facilities. The IQ is located adjacent to the Dalton L. McMichael Sr. Science Center, Richard W. Sankey Hall and the Ernest A. Koury Sr. Business Center, solidifying connections between STEM and the sciences, entrepreneurship, sales, design thinking and analytics. This new sector will have a focus on innovation, as evidenced by the quad’s first two buildings.

Here’s a look at what’s inside each of these two new dynamic buildings.

Founders Hall

Founders Hall was made possible following a naming gift from Elon alumnus Furman Moseley ’56 and his wife, Susan Moseley, who are among the university’s most generous donors. The two-story, 20,000-square-foot building is designed to enable engineering students and faculty to transform bold ideas into prototypes. It will include multiple laboratories, including those for design, advanced prototyping, astrophysics, prefabrication, mechatronics and virtual reality.

Among its unique facilities:

Hunt Atrium

The two-story grand atrium in the core of Founders Hall was made possible through the support of Elon Trustee Vicky Hunt and her husband, Sam. Featuring open collaboration spaces and assembly areas, tiered bench seating and meeting space for group events, the atrium is an inviting entry point to Founders Hall. It’s layout will support events such as guest speakers and receptions.

Engineering Design Lab

This large workspace with moveable tables will offer students in the Senior Engineering Design Capstone course room to design and prototype various projects.

Advanced Prototype Lab

Students working to prototype electronic projects will use this space, which is equipped with a large range of electronic tools and equipment including an advanced 3D printer.

Engineering Prototype Lab

This lab with two distinct spaces offers students the opportunity to complete advanced prototypes using a range of materials. Room 130 is a traditional manufacturing space with state-of-the-art machining equipment including a HAAS Super Mini Mill 2 CNC machine and a Wardjet A-Series Waterjet cutter. This advanced machining equipment increases the capability for students to develop sophisticated prototypes in hard rterials like plastic and metal.

Room 128 will be primarily used as a woodworking shop and is equipped with various power saws and a dust-collection system. The remaining open space is ideal for larger projects including composites work using concrete molds, carbon fiber, Kevlar and fiberglass layups.

Virtual Reality Lab

The VR Lab offers space for courses to come alive and the ability to research topics in previously unexplored ways as the technology advances. Professor of Astrophysics Tony Crider requested the VR lab to enhance astronomy and technology courses, through simulations such floating in the International Space Station.

Engineering students will be able to explore their computerized designs in 3D. There is already potential this academic year for engineering seniors to perform interdisciplinary research with exercise science faculty by examining bodily movement and physiological reactions to visual stimuli.

Like other IQ spaces, the VR Lab is open to departments and disciplines beyond physics and engineering where students will benefit from experiencing course subjects in 3D.

Mechatronics Lab

This lab will host courses previously taught in the Duke Robotics Lab, such as Circuits, Robotics, Signals & Systems, Microelectronics and Digital Systems. Equipment in the lab includes electronic wave form generators, oscilloscopes and robotics kits.

Innovation Hall

The three-story, 40,000-square-foot Innovation Hall will be the home for cross-disciplinary studies, equipment and research in biomedicine, computer science, physics and robotics. The facility also features cutting-edge flexible classrooms for biophysics and physics, and laboratory space for core engineering courses, bioinstrumentation, environmental engineering research, biomedical and environmental labs.

Among its unique facilities:

Bioinstrumentation Lab

This lab deepens courses and research led by Professor of Physics Ben Evans, particularly in biophysics and exploring microscale processes essential to life, and by Assistant Professor of Engineering Richard Blackmon, for the Bioinstrumentation and Imaging course examining the physical principles underlying diagnostic medical systems. Three dark rooms on the side of the building will house lasers for greater research capability.

Worm Culture Lab

Equipped with a biosafety cabinet and sink, Associate Professor Scott Wolter ideated this space based on his into technologies for a waterless toilet that is funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Working with Elon students, Wolter’s lab has focused on finding a cost-effective and sustainable solution for sanitizing wastewater in regions that otherwise do not have access to clean water and food. That research involves cultivating benign bacteria and worms to emulate dangerous and parasitic organisms that threaten life in the developing world.

Biomedical and Environmental Labs

Associate Professor Scott Wolter and his students will be conducting research here involving technologies including carbon nanotubes and vacuum chambers.
Additionally, Associate Professor Bethany Brinkman and Assistant Professor Will Pluer will use this space for environmental engineering courses involving water and water quality research, with those courses now offered through Elon’s environmental engineering concentration.