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Town hall meeting discusses new home for The College of Computing and Informatics | The Triangle

Town hall meeting discusses new home for The College of Computing and Informatics

Graphic by William Pearson for The Triangle

The College of Computing and Informatics held a town hall meeting Oct. 26 to share plans and get student feedback about the college’s move to a new home in 2019.

It will be moving location to 3671 Market St. by the spring quarter, due to the expansion of this fast growing college. Students will have classes, research labs and collaboration areas all included on the 10th and 11th floors of this new building.

“It’s truly a milestone for our college, in the next spring we are setting a move to our new home,” Yi Deng, dean of the college, stated as he introduced the discussion. “I’m hoping this new space is a game-changer.”

The CCI program is currently spread across three buildings over only 49,000 square feet, Deng explained. These are the Rush Building, University Crossings and 3401 Market St. He said the current spaces are vastly disconnected from each other.

“This new space really helps to solve that problem for us,” he said.

Deng then introduced Ali Shokoufandeh, professor and senior associate dean of research and operations, who gave a walk-through of what the new space will entail.

He explained how the new building will help build the community of the college and encourage students and faculty to build stronger connections, ultimately making it a more enjoyable environment.

This is important because of the growing interest in the program, he said.

“We are one of the biggest growing communities in the university, so we have to have room to expand,” Shokoufandeh said.

Shokoufandeh then shared floor plans through a presentation, explaining that it will include research spaces, conference rooms, larger classrooms spaces, and offices for faculty to keep them close to the student population.

“The hope was that we can first of all bring all the students, faculty, researchers and graduate students into one space, so that was one of the biggest motivations for going through this project,” Shokoufandeh emphasized. “It’s a unifying space for our college.”

He went on to explain how the overall design is fairly modern, including carpet that prevents noise in classrooms, and plenty of natural light to come through most sides of the utilized spaces.

“It has a very natural flow to go between the spaces,” he continued.

The town hall was then opened up for discussion, allowing students in the audience to inquire further about the new space. One student asked about access to the building and Shokoufandeh explained students would have 24-hour access to most of the space.

Another student posed that he was worried about being late to classes due to the new location, and Shokoufandeh made it clear that the CCI faculty is working with the staff to make the schedules so that students aren’t going back and forth.

Deng also chimed in to emphasize that even though the location is a little far from the center of campus, that it is a very intellectually-driven area. He also added that this is a common issue across all universities.

The discussion went on to explore other details like power sources that will be provided in the new space, including projectors.

Information systems senior Kaitlyn Smith told The Triangle that she is concerned about the future of the student organizations that currently run out of the Rush Building, since the new building plans do not accommodate for them. She explained how DUCSTeach, a service organization that works to improve the technological and computer science literacy of schools in the Philadelphia community, uses Rush to organize supplies and as a meeting space.

In the end, Shokoufandeh reiterated the improvements this space will offer.

“The space we’re going to have is far, far better than what we have now,” he said,  stressing the collaborative nature of the design.

A computer science freshman who attended the town hall, Minh Pham, said this was important, especially since space in the current iCommons space within the Rush Building is rather small.

“We often have to go to the library, but now we have a grand space for that,” he explained.

Pham also said that travel between classes will be much better since there will be a dedicated space, which will ultimately improve collaboration.

“Collaboration will be better since we’re all in one space,” he said.

Quinton Gipson, a transfer student in his third term, agreed.

“There’s [currently] not enough access to collaboration with other students,” he said. “This new building will benefit other students and me.”