Montclair State University is opening a $22.2 million facility this month to prepare students for careers in data analytics and computer science.
The Center for Computing and Information Science will become the home to the College of Science and Mathematics Student Success Center, Mathematics Education group, Health Careers and Upward Bound programs. The center replaces the former Mallory Hall, having been expanded from 34,400 square feet to 43,800 square feet.
“Our president Dr. Susan Cole is such a visionary and she shows tremendous leadership,” said Lora Billings, dean of the College of Science and Mathematics. “We are trying to align our goals with the goals of the state. We want to lead in innovation and bring in more students. Montclair has a lot to offer.”
The building has been fitted with new heating, cooling, plumbing and electrical upgrades and remediated environmental systems.
“Another standout feature is the reconstructed and expanded skywalk that connects the center to neighboring Schmitt Hall, which provides a beautiful high-tech common area for our students, faculty and staff,” Billings said. “These common areas in the center are essential for creativity and collaboration. They encourage increased communication within and across different disciplines, inspiring new research directions.”
Billings said computer science is one of Montclair State’s top five majors with upward of 700 undergraduates at the bachelor’s level. Another 100 graduate students are studying computer and information technology.
The center features a 145-seat amphitheater, six teaching labs and classrooms equipped with seven new research labs, cutting-edge projects in human-computer interactions, image processing, parallel computing, computational sensing, a specialized hardware lab and a smaller computer lab for independent student work. All classroom spaces are fitted with projectors and computers.
“Everything comes through collaboration so students create the next generation of apps, clouds and mobile-computing devices,” Billings said. “The building provides these features with a high-tech common area. We grew out of the old space. This is what the new building is providing. There was not previously a common area. This is to allow learning to occur naturally.”
The building has been transformed into a technologically advanced research and instructional facility structure. The renovation project has reimagined and repurposed existing classroom and laboratory spaces and added a fourth floor to accommodate the influx of students.
Montclair State has hired seven people to work at the center and expects to add another two next year.
“We did not have a specialized hardware lab that we will have in the new building,” said Constantine Coutras, chair of the Department of Computer Science. “They will have equipment to play with and to teach courses in computer architecture and cybersecurity labs. It is a secured lab that can hold expensive equipment.”
Courses that are most in demand are data science and cybersecurity, and Coutras said the university is looking to add graduate degrees in those disciplines. It also is considering offering a degree in computer science.
“Software engineering is already in demand,” Coutras said. “A lot of our data science graduates work as software engineers.”