School of Computing and Engineering Gets Student Collaboration Space

New common area in Flarsheim Hall is thanks to a gift from Burns & McDonnell and alumni

Beginning this spring, University of Missouri-Kansas City students in Flarsheim Hall will have a convenient place to check email, work on assignments or chat with friends between classes.

Thanks to a $59,000 gift to the UMKC Foundation from Burns & McDonnell and UMKC alumni who work for the engineering firm, a “student collaboration space” is being built just off Flarsheim’s main entrance on the third floor. School officials hope to dedicate the space before the end of the school year.

The student collaboration space, which will be named for Burns & McDonnell, will replace a small, windowless classroom and serve as a distinctive entrance to the School of Computing and Engineering, one of the programs housed in Flarsheim Hall.

Other than a small lounge on the fourth floor, this will be the first space in Flarsheim for students to hang out between classes. It will include lounge chairs, big screen televisions and a long table where students can plug in computers and other electronics.

Computing and engineering Dean Kevin Z. Truman said the alumni who work for Burns & McDonnell came to the school asking how they could help.

“That’s gratifying,” he said. “The alumni drove this. We are thrilled that they would commit these funds and pleased that they want to get involved in the School of Computing and Engineering.”

Truman said the space will serve as a “gateway” to the school. Eventually, the school’s Student Affairs suite will be relocated nearby, making the area a convenient hub for engineering and computing students.

The Burns & McDonnell Foundation matched employee donations to create the $59,000 gift for the space. Jim Hogan, a senior vice president in Burns & McDonnell’s Transmission and Distribution Division, said he helped organize the fund drive for UMKC because he understands the importance of a thriving engineering school to Kansas City.

“The School of Computing and Engineering has been growing by leaps and bounds and I think the dean and his leadership team have a vision that is very important,” Hogan said. “It’s a no-brainer that Kansas City should have a really strong engineering program.”

Hogan, a civil engineer who earned his bachelor’s degree at UMKC in 1984, said giving engineering students a space of their own is a fitting contribution to help support the school’s growing stature.

Burns & McDonnell has helped fund similar student collaboration spaces at other engineering schools throughout the region, including Missouri University of Science and Technology in Rolla; University of Missouri-Columbia; the University of Kansas; and Kansas State University.

Burns & McDonnell chairman and CEO Greg Graves, who was awarded an honorary engineering doctorate from UMKC last year, was among the employees who supported the collaboration space, Hogan said. The Burns & McDonnell Foundation contributed $25,000 to the effort. The company also is offering some pro bono design consultation on the project.

UMKC crews are scheduled to begin constructing the space over spring break. That work involves tearing out a wall to open up the small classroom into the Flarsheim entrance. Flarsheim Hall, located on Rockhill Road, opened in the fall of 1999. In addition to computing and engineering, the building houses the geoscience, chemistry and physics departments.

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