MVNU turning empty downtown building into HW Hub for engineering, computer science
Mount Vernon Nazarene University will transform a downtown Mount Vernon building at 18 E. Vine St. into a state-of-the-art academic hub for students in engineering and computer science programs. The project will bring new life to the lower floor of the former Mount Vernon News building and relocate the university’s computer science program into a new shared space with its engineering programs.
The revitalization is made possible by the third largest gift to the university, a grant from Ariel Foundation that includes over $1.4 million in state-of-the-art equipment to enhance student learning and research opportunities in computer science and mechanical, electrical, and computer engineering.
The HW Hub is named in memory of Hunter N. Wright, president of Ariel Corporation, who passed away in 2021 following a valiant battle with cancer. Wright served on MVNU’s Engineering Industrial Advisory Board, providing insight on educational objectives to build the engineering program, as well as external input on program assessment to support continuous improvement.
The renovated academic space will be accessed through Blackberry Alley, steps away from the Stephen W. Nease Center, home of the engineering programs. The HW Hub is considered an expansion of the Nease Center, providing substantial growth of the current academic facilities with the creation of new laboratories for cyber security, virtual reality, embedded systems research, computing and networking, and mechanical engineering.
The high-tech facility will allow MVNU to provide students with training in the latest cutting-edge technologies, prepare them for graduate studies, and bolster their ability to compete and perform in the job market. The shared facility provides a synergistic setting for intentional collaboration between two academic departments, which are poised for growth.
“There is no question this new facility will strengthen our engineering and computer science majors in significant ways. This move will foster greater collaboration between the computer science and engineering programs, thereby reinforcing our newly established computer engineering major. Further support for the new major will come from a new embedded computing laboratory in the new space,” said LeeAnn Couts, dean of the School of Natural and Social Sciences.
The HW Hub will help solidify the university as a leading educational choice for STEM programs now and into the future, expanding enrollment capacity and providing a premier learning space for students, including expanded faculty-led research opportunities. The timing of the development coincides with the new Intel fabrication facilities currently being built in Licking County. MVNU has already formed partnerships supported by Intel that will result in short courses and experiential micro-credential workshops for students and resources for faculty to learn and teach new cutting-edge skills.
“We are thrilled about and grateful for this generous gift from Ariel Foundation. This timely gift enhances our ability to meet the changing needs of our community,” said Amy Kovach, vice president for Academic Affairs. “As we open the HW Hub, we will be better equipped to academically prepare engineers and computer scientists, allowing MVNU to help meet the current and future employment demands in these fields.”
The HW Hub will be available to students and faculty in the fall of 2025. Construction will begin in the summer of 2024.
--Mount Vernon Nazarene University