A sign with different shades of blue is seen in windows to a glassed-in office area. The signs contain the words "blue dot" and "futureEDlab."

GVSU showcases tech-innovative futureEDlab, designed to prepare future leaders, redefine education

Grand Valley unveiled a lab that invites students, faculty, staff and community partners to engage with innovative technologies that will redefine education and prepare students to lead Michigan's future economy.

The celebration of the GVSU futureEDlab on Nov. 8 at the Consumers Energy John G. Russell Leadership Center included a ribbon cutting and an open house where university and community representatives could see some of the projects that have allowed students to incorporate their creativity with emerging technologies.

The futureEDlab is a key component of the Blue Dot ecosystem, a network that builds meaningful interaction between GVSU, businesses and researchers in a variety of fields, from engineering to new media to sustainability. Blue Dot is part of Grand Valley’s vision to create a talent pipeline to help Grand Rapids and the region evolve into a tech hub.

Several people cut into a ribbon with the Grand Valley State University logo and the words "Grand Valley State University futureEDlab." A screen behind them says, "Welcome to the Future of Education!" "Blue Dot" and "futureEDlab." The GVSU logo is also on the screen.

President Philomena V. Mantella said the futureEDlab will help address the economic and labor force challenges Michigan faces by inspiring students to learn for a lifetime. 

"We know to meet these challenges we need forward-looking thinkers and problem solvers and not simply graduates and employees with content mastery and good test-taking skills," Mantella said. "We need individuals to fall in love with learning, to understand that can't stop when they get a degree. The world is changing too quickly."

Some of the projects on display included work from REP4, which seeks to center student voices in the future of higher education and the Laker Accelerated Talent Link , which recently kicked off.

The programs displayed build new models and demonstrate "there is infinite potential in empowering students to be the architects of their own future," Mantella said.

Two people point toward a laptop computer screen while standing before a table. Other people and screens are in the background.
A person smiles while talking with three other people. The words "Digital Wallet" in the background.
Two people smile while leaning over a table to look at a device.
President Philomena V. Mantella said that at the futureEDlab, students are the makers, architects, testers and evaluators of the work that is produced.

Two students who have been part of projects said during the ceremony that their experiences have ignited their enthusiasm for learning and for what the future holds.

Ben Stenglein, a film and video production major who was centrally involved with September's GR in XR event that was part of Tech Week Grand Rapids, said the futureEDlab's design is ideal for hands-on, tech-driven learning.

"This will help the university not only broaden the opportunities that it affords to students, but it will also connect students with local industry like never before," Stenglein said.

Ashley Castellanos, a legal studies major, said working to test technology and being involved with VR learning research will help improve effectiveness as a legal practitioner and stay flexible and creative in a fast-paced industry.

"I am beyond grateful to be able to use my voice and share how exciting this experience is not only for myself but for my fellow peers," Castellanos said.

Two people smile while photographed from the side. One person has their arm around the other.
Two people gesture while looking at a computer screen.
Students Ashley Castellanos, left, and Ben Stenglein spoke about their experiences at the ceremony.


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