Third floor of library to see innovative changes

Changes are coming to the Volpe Library – renovations are underway on the third floor to create a new interactive, technology-based learning environment that will be an open-access space for all students.

“The Volpe Library third floor is on the verge of becoming home to an innovation and discovery center that will change the way our university prepares and teaches students,” President Phil Oldham said in his President’s Blog on April 8.

The project will bring “a virtual reality cave, a research and development lab, flexible team space, lab space and classroom space, along with design and fabrication stations with equipment including 3-D printers,” Oldham stated.

Dr. Douglas Bates, library and student learning assistance dean, said the project started coming together last fall, although there is no estimated completion date as of yet.

According to a Tech FAQ about the space, there will be a H.I.V.E., or Hybrid Immersive Visualization Environment, which will allow professional researchers and students to use virtual reality technology to explore research problems.

There will also be a CAVE, a virtual reality system that will use both 3-D and high-definition technology and allow researchers to mimic virtual reality environments. The CAVE is “possible based on the expertise and experience” of Dr. Bahrat Soni, Tech’s vice president for research and economic development.

Bates said in this space, for example, nursing students could research the anatomy of the human heart by building a virtual model.

“They could create a 3-D version of the human heart or other parts of the arterial system, and use that as the teaching tool, as opposed at looking at slides,” Bates said. “It would be a powerful teaching tool.”

The library was chosen because of its accessibility and high amount of traffic.

“Space in the library is limited. We consider it to be a resource,” Bates explained. “Our mission is to support the academic mission of the university. We have a limited amount of space to do that. So we have to think carefully about how we ‘spend’ our space.”

Some students are already voicing concerns about losing the quiet, study space on the third floor. Bates said that space will not be lost or compromised, and the library is working toward preserving it.

View a FAQ about the space at