October 18, 2018 | ° F

New learning center lets Rutgers students take classes offered at other Big Ten schools


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The University’s new Learning Center offers students the ability to expand their education beyond the confines of Rutgers, with a video conference center and the flexibility of taking classes offered at other Big Ten schools.


The Rutgers University School of Arts and Sciences announced yesterday that it has moved some of its most innovative programs and research to a building on 1 Spring St. in Downtown New Brunswick.

The Learning Center’s video conferencing systems will allow Rutgers students to take courses at other Big Ten schools as if they were there in person, according to Rutgers Today. Students will be able to connect with the University of Minnesota, which will be offering courses this fall in areas such as Korean and Akkadian. Conversely, Rutgers will offer a Greek prose class to the University of Illinois. 

Locally, a similar VideoWall system on the third floor will allow students to communicate directly with classes at Rutgers University—Newark. 

“These facilities show that languages and language learning are fully part of the 21st century,” said Tom Stephens, faculty director of the center, and a professor in the Department of Spanish and Portuguese. “In these rooms, language is in fact pushing the technology.”

Rutgers University—New Brunswick Interim Chancellor Christopher J. Molloy said the move brings major potential to Rutgers as a major research university. 

He said that having the school work more with partners in New Brunswick will only make Rutgers stronger.

“We are going to be able to solve a lot of problems and create a lot of opportunity here,” said School of Arts and Sciences Executive Dean Peter March, noting the wide range of research, teaching and service projects that are located in the building.

Attendees of the ribbon cutting ceremony were able to go through the building and view demonstrations of the new site, according to Rutgers Today. 

One demonstration by Kostas Bekris, a professor in the Department of Computer Science, was held in a 1,300 square-foot robotics lab on the third floor. There they demonstrated a robot that held a paint roller and accurately maneuvered it within a large Rutgers "R" as if it was actually painting. 

“We provide the robot and programming so that the robot can do the operation as close as possible to how a human does it,” Bekris said. “Part of the requirement is that you apply the same amount of paint that a human would be doing at the same time.”

On the second floor, the Department of Psychology allowed audiences to see their offices and labs that will be used to study issues like anxiety and cigarette smoking, according to Rutgers Today. Particularly, the study focuses on the causes of why people start the habit and why it is so difficult to quit. 

David Vicario, former longtime chair of the Department of Psychology and now area dean for social and behavioral sciences in the School of Arts and Sciences, said the new building will help researchers expand their subject pool and patient population.

Lastly, the new building will be beneficial to the Rutgers Oral History Archives, which archives the lives of New Jersey citizens, particularly elderly veterans, according to Rutgers Today. Shaun Illingworth, the director of the archives, says the new location has parking for his interviewees, better acoustics and more room for students working with him. 

“This is going to make us a better resource for the people of New Jersey and the university community as we broaden the scope of our program to include more people around the state,” Illingworth said. 

New Brunswick Mayor James Cahill (D-N.J.) said the School of Arts and Sciences move to 1 Spring St. is a continuation of the strong partnership and cooperation between the city and university.

“We are pleased to see Rutgers grow into new spaces because with new growth comes continued commitment for shared community,” Cahill said. “This new home will allow the School of Arts and Sciences to grow and thrive, further integrating the Rutgers mission into the heart of our community.”


Brendan Brightman

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