Ready, Set, Collaborate!

The new UW Chemistry Building encourages group efforts.

Exterior of the new UW–Madison Chemistry building

After unexpected construction delays, students returned to spring-semester classes in the new, state-of-the-art Chemistry Building, which includes a nine-story tower that adds much-needed space to the old facility.

More than half of UW–Madison undergraduates take at least one chemistry class, and with the previous inadequate building, some of them were reduced to taking core classes at other universities, while others experienced delays in earning a degree.

The $133 million upgrade, which began in 2018, allows the university to meet an increased demand for courses required by students majoring in STEM fields.

Two students and their teaching assistant sit in green chair desks and meet together in a conference room

In the above photo, two general chemistry students meet with their TA (at right) in one of the seventh-floor write-up rooms. The remodeled facility accommodates modern computers, equipment, and safety and teaching standards — including more collaborative learning. Every lab has a connected room where students can write up lab results, which they often had to do while sitting in the hallways of the old building. Classrooms and other spaces feature moveable tables, swivel seats, and similar innovations to enhance group work.

Shrey Ramesh wearing a white lab coat operates a rotary evaporator

Shrey Ramesh x’24, above, operates a rotary evaporator in the Witting Lab for organic chemistry on the building’s eighth floor. The evaporator quickly removes solvents from reaction mixtures by means of a vacuum. The new building provides a number of the valuable evaporators for organic chemistry students. And, Ramesh says, “Going from online labs last semester to this in-person lab was a huge upgrade!” Another building amenity is a “library of the future” where students access information solely online.

Two students wearing protective equipment in a lab look closely at a glass vial of liquid

Students in a lecture hall in the new UW-Madison Chemistry building Students study, nap, and pass time in a brightly-decorated lobby area in the new UW–Madison Chemistry building. Two students and their teaching assistant sit in green chair desks and meet together in a conference room

Published in the Summer 2022 issue


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