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Exciting STEM future as Mason's campuses expand

Dean Fernando Miralles-Wilhelm

I’ll let you in on a secret…a huge transformation is underway on many of George Mason University’s campuses. One that will significantly enhance the surrounding communities where we learn, live, work, and conduct research.

Some are surprised when I explain that our expanding and evolving footprint is occurring on most of the SIX significant and unique learning environments where our Mason scientists build their scientific curiosity. Here’s the inside scoop on the growth to come.

Last week, as part of Mason’s 50th anniversary, we broke ground on a gamechanger for Mason’s SciTech campus in Manassas, VA. The scientific research elements of this campus are already anchored by the recently opened outdoor forensic research facility (one of only 8 in the U.S.) and Mason’s Biomedical Research level 3 facilities (one of only about a dozen labs like it in the U.S.) where our highly regarded cancer, Lyme, COPD, COVID, antimicrobial, and other rare disease research can flourish.

The new $75 million Mason Life Sciences and Engineering Building scheduled to open August, 2024 will offer a 132,000 square-foot-facility with specialized instructional labs, classrooms, experiential learning collaboratories, and faculty and administrative offices to support our STEM-H students including those in materials science, forensic science, and those in bio- and mechanical engineering. The development also expands residential living options (with both student housing and off campus townhomes), offices, and retail offerings that will benefit students, faculty and the surrounding community.

Mason continues to lay a strong infrastructure for a medical school, advance the region’s innovation industries, and drive associated economic growth. Moreover, university and local officials envision the increasingly vibrant SciTech Campus will attract new research enterprises and positively impact existing businesses in Prince William County’s Innovation Park.

But that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

Most are familiar with Mason’s Fairfax, VA campus. Not far from Washington, D.C., this location serves as home to the vast majority of our 39,000+ students, and offers an incredible depth and breadth of STEM learning opportunities. Its science facilities include Mason’s Observatory, Greenhouses, Arboretum, and many of our neuroscience, chemistry, geography and geoinformation science, physics, mathematics, biology, forensics, and climate science laboratories and classrooms.

The Fairfax campus offers two science-based learning communities (LC). College of Science first-year students can join the Science LC to make connections to best navigate the scientific opportunities we and our research and professional partners offer. The Sustainability LC offers a student cohort to get involved in sustainability efforts transforming Mason’s campuses and our broader world each day.

To educate the whole student, the campus also boasts many cultural and athletic venues like Eagle Bank Arena and the recently renovated Harris Theater  are two examples of places where students can take in sports events, and Mason-produced performances and exhibits at no charge.

For aspiring and passionate conservationists, Mason partners with the Smithsonian at our Smithsonian/Mason School of Conservation campus in Front Royal, VA. The campus provides an unparalleled and transformative learning environment, including researchers in residence working to identify and save species. 

For those learners who prefer a water-based learning ecosystem, Mason’s Potomac Science Center in Woodbridge, VA offers biochemistry, geography, and ecological transdisciplinary learning opportunities, allowing students to excel in their research and environmental outreach efforts. 

Additionallly, Mason’s international science-focused learning experience is also expanding as we welcome new computational and data science faculty to our science learning community at Mason Korea. The campus is located in Songdo, South Korea and was established by Mason in 2014.

Finally, you’ve also heard that the Amazon headquarters is coming to northern VA. This new venture will bring many tech jobs and computational career opportunities for students learning on the Mason Square campus in Arlington, VA. We just broke ground on the Fuse at Mason Square project, a 345,000-square foot facility, as part of Mason’s year-long 50th anniversary celebration earlier this month. This collaborative effort is designed to promote digital innovation, active learning and cutting-edge research in the presence of business entrepreneurs, tech incubators, and education and policy makers. It will serve as a technological hub in the Rosslyn-Ballston corridor connecting students, faculty, industry and government. Many of our college’s computational scientists will benefit from this new venture.

As Mason begins its next 50 years, we do so in growth mode, focused on impactful and diverse STEM learning locations and experiences. I look forward to how this exciting growth, and the numerous opportunities it presents, will positively impact our Mason science community.