Gateway Lab 
FY 1994 $39,000
School of Engineering and Applied Science
 
Project Description and Goals: The Gateway Lab is a state-of-the art multimedia facility in the School of Engineering and Applied Science. Gateway was established in 1994 as part of Columbiaís work with the National Science Foundationís Gateway Coalition, a ten-institution consortium devoted to the reform of undergraduate engineering education. The Lab is a major tool in SEASí education reform efforts and focuses on incorporating multimedia technology into the engineering curriculum. The Labís current infrastructure, valued at more than $40 million, includes 45 Unix-based Silicon Graphics Indy machines and a variety of advanced imaging software capable of handling multiple applications, including 3-D modeling, animation, and engineering design. The Lab also houses an Onyx supercomputer for high-end applications. These acquisitions were achieved through a number of high-level good will transactions with industry. SEAS faculty and faculty from other schools are able to utilize the Lab to aid research requiring advanced modeling and design tools. Users to date have included the Department of Chemistry, the Department of Art History and Archaeology, the Graduate School of Architecture, Planning, and Preservation, and the School of the Arts. Additionally, the Lab supports users from other universities, high schools, and industry for a variety of activities, including introductory multimedia courses, workshops, and symposia.

Status and Accomplishments

FY 1994 & FY 1995: First year funding of approximately $176,000 from the NSF Gateway Coalition supported the Gateway Labís design and curriculum planning efforts. To support the initial Lab infrastructure, AT&T contributed $125,000 for the acquisition of 20 PCs. Late into 1994, contributions from the Strategic Initiative Fund and other Columbia University investments supported the acquisition of 45 SGI workstations and the Onyx supercomputer. The Lab was formally designated in November of 1994. In FY 1995, the Lab focused on the development of courses and user programs, including the following activities:

FY 1996: To date, The Lab has received over $500,000 from the NSF Gateway Coalition. In the fall of 1995, a mini-site visit was conducted by the NSF. NSFís report stated that the Gateway Lab was an exemplary effort and that other schools should follow the Labís lead in multimedia instructional design. Gateway Coalition funding will continue through FY 1997. Some of the Labís NSF funding has been allocated to other schools and departments of Columbia University, including the Institute for Learning Technologies for evaluation work and the Building Technologies Program in Architecture, Planning, and Preservation to support development of joint civil/mechanical/architecture learning modules.

FY 1997: The Gateway Laboratory was renamed the Botwinick Gateway Laboratory in honor of an SEAS alumnus, E. Botwinick, who gave $1 million to maintain the Lab as the premier multimedia facility in SEAS. During the past year, the number of courses (now 12) using the unique visualization capabilities of the Botwinick Gateway Lab continue to grow. A significant step was the opening of a new section of the sophomore level graphics course. The course is also open to undergraduates outside of SEAS. Significant numbers of Columbia College students are enrolled in the freshman Gateway course. The Lab has been connected to the Columbia Video Net so that all 40 SGI workstations can receive live video courses. Based upon the existing freshman Gateway course, the NSF awarded a $100,000 grant to SEAS in partnership with Teachers College for the development and evaluation of on-line freshman engineering design modules utilizing multimedia technologies such as the Web and Java. Modules from electrical and mechanical engineering have been developed. A grant of $50,000 to the Lab from the Alumni Association of SEAS has resulted in the purchase of a high-end workstation enabling students to easily output their work onto video tape. The Gateway Coalition, now in its fifth year, will be funded for another five-year period for approximately $15 million to be shared among seven institutions.

Project Leader: Morton Friedman, Vice Dean, School of Engineering and Applied Science