MVNU turning empty downtown building into HW Hub for engineering and 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 Computer Science program into a new shared space with MVNU’s 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. 

Named the HW Hub in memory of Hunter Wright, the completely 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 Dr. 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 microcredential 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 Dr. 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.

NAMING OF THE HW HUB 

The HW Hub was named to honor the memory of Hunter N. Wright, president of Ariel Corporation who passed away in 2021 following a valiant battle with cancer. 

Mr. 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. Hunter was known for finding joy in bringing people together so this gift honors his memory by providing a collaborative, hands-on learning space where opportunities in the engineering and computer sciences fields may be explored and real-world solutions to industry challenges can be created.

FUTURE OF 18 EAST VINE STREET 

The Knox County Land Bank, owner of the former Mount Vernon News building, is excited to transform the vacant building into a center of learning and commerce which aligns with the organization’s goal of achieving the highest and best use in all its properties. 

“By adding first-class lab space and classrooms to the lower level of the building, MVNU will create and retain jobs while developing an educated workforce for local companies,” said Sam Filkins, Vice President of the Area Development Foundation, which manages the operation of the Land Bank. “These programs are in line with current and future workforce needs and demonstrate MVNU’s forward-thinking approach to being a leader in this area.”

The entire façade of the building will be revitalized by combining historic elements with modern functionality. The Land Bank will repurpose the main floor of the building to create new commercial spaces in the thriving downtown historic district.

To learn more about MVNU’s computer science and engineering programs, visit mvnu.edu.

Mount Vernon Nazarene University is a private, four-year, intentionally Christian teaching university for traditional age students, graduate students, and working adults. With a 327-acre main campus in Mount Vernon, Ohio, MVNU emphasizes academic excellence, spiritual growth, and service to community and church. MVNU offers an affordable education both in-seat and online to nearly 2,000 students from 25 states and 11 foreign countries. 

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Cutlines: 

Blackberry Alley Entry — The main entry to HW Hub will provide students with outdoor space and proximity to the Stephen W. Nease Center, home of MVNU’s engineering programs. Rendering courtesy of SoL Harris Day Architecture  

Communication Space — Intentional communication space is included in the HW Hub to provide faculty and students with creative areas to collaborate on projects and ideas. Rendering courtesy of SoL Harris Day Architecture  

Kitchenette — Students, faculty and staff will have access to kitchen space for meals and social interaction. Rendering courtesy of SoL Harris Day Architecture  

Network Cyber Security Lab — The state-of-the-art network cyber security lab will allow MVNU to provide students with training in cutting-edge technologies. Rendering courtesy of SoL Harris Day Architecture  

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