Kick-Start for Scholars


A 10-year, $500,000 gift aims to encourage ‘experiential learning’ at the Catalyst.

 

EWU research to be conducted at Spokane’s new Catalyst building — the zero-energy engineering marvel featured in the Fall/Winter edition of Eastern magazine — got a big boost earlier this year.

The McKinstry Charitable Foundation, headquartered in Seattle, announced in February a gift of $50,000 each year for 10 years to establish the Catalyst Faculty and Student Research Fund. The $500,000 fund, to be managed by the EWU Foundation, will support Catalyst-based experiential learning.

“We are proud to be connecting research passions of EWU faculty and students with real-world applications at the Catalyst building,” says Dean Allen, chief executive officer at McKinstry.
“The South Landing Eco-District is a living laboratory fueled by public-private partnerships, and we’re excited that this grant program will allow more EWU faculty members and students to engage with that vision in a deeper way.”

“Catalyst is a game-changer for Eastern and the region, and by supporting research efforts this fund will allow our students and faculty to flourish in their work and provide more opportunities to connect with business and industry,” says David May, Eastern’s interim president.

Eastern is the primary tenant in the Catalyst building, located on the South Landing of the University District. Catalyst is Spokane’s first zero-energy building and the first office building in the state constructed out of environmentally friendly cross-laminated timber, or CLT. The innovative new space is the result of a unique collaboration among cross-industry partners McKinstry, Avista and Katerra. It will allow Eastern to easily connect students to the regional business community.

“We are very grateful for this significant gift from our partners at McKinstry,” says EWU interim President David May. “Catalyst is a game-changer for Eastern and the region, and by supporting research efforts this fund will allow our students and faculty to flourish in their work and provide more opportunities to connect with business and industry.”

Funding from McKinstry’s first gift installment was used to support student projects related to the building’s grand opening. Two groups of Eastern students and their faculty advisors worked with representatives from McKinstry to develop an interactive installation with an accompanying digital information piece.

“We created a visual data feed of the energy the building and occupants consume and how much energy the building produces to offset that value,” says student team leader Danielle Flinn. “We also created an illustrated animation to show the importance of how the [South Landing] buildings work together and benefit the greater community and construction industry in general.”

Additional work by Eastern students produced other “deliverables” to promote the grand opening. Under the direction of EWU faculty, students collaborated with marketing professionals from Catalyst partner firms to develop copy and videos for a website dedicated to promoting the building: catalystspokane.com.

Mindy Breen, professor and chair of Eastern’s Department of Design, says the project has been a tremendously rewarding experience for both the students and the faculty members who worked with them.
“Real world student projects, like this one, are effective learning experiences, and they help connect students with industry partners,” Breen says.