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Innovation + Excellence = M2

The new Materials and Minerals Science Building and Plasso at Mawson Lakes.The University of South Australia is set to formally open one of the most important research facilities it has constructed in the past five years.

The new Materials and Minerals Science Building and Plasso at Mawson Lakes campus will be officially opened on August 6.

The launch will follow an industry and research symposium in the morning, exploring the future for SA’s natural resources development and management with more than 90 key stakeholders, industry representatives and researchers from across government, the commercial world and the higher education sector.

Affectionately named M2, the new $50 million facility underpins world-class research in minerals and materials science but also offers a place designed specifically to enhance the blending of the teaching and research environments so that both undergraduates and postgraduates feel a part of a vibrant learning environment.

Although yet to be launched, the building is already garnering accolades after it was announced as the winner of the prestigious Jack McDonnell Award at the 2012 SA Architecture Awards in early July.

UniSA Pro Vice Chancellor for IT, Engineering and the Environment, Professor Andrew Parfitt says the vision for M2 Building and the Plasso was to create a learning and research hub that would carry UniSA into the future in minerals and materials research.

“Our aim was to build something where excellence in research, teaching and industry collaboration could be cultivated,” Prof Parfitt says.

“We are very happy with what we have and the fact that the design of the building actually fosters engagement across those levels – between students and researchers, researchers and industry.

“We are also very grateful for the support provided by Federal and State Governments to fund the building and the faith this shows in the significance of materials and minerals science to future industries.”

Designed by John Wardle Architects + Swanbury Penglase, key features include 10 purpose-built laboratories across three levels of the building which have been designed to be visually accessible with glass frontages so that work undertaken is on show, offering inspiration and engagement for students.

In an echo of the Greek amphitheatre, an oval-shaped studio, acoustically designed to allow lecturers and speakers to talk from the centre of the room and move about the theatre, is a key feature of the ground floor of the building. The theatre has six HD projectors with edge blending technology, a document camera (the modern translation of a white board) and a control room to enable access grid functionality providing capability for regular audio visual presentations but also multimedia large-format displays and interactive group presentations.

Purpose-built experiential learning studios and demonstration rooms for both first year and fourth year students employ sophisticated technologies that allow collaborative work at the highest level and include options for interface with laboratory experiments in real time.

The building also has a technology transfer node where collaboration with industry can be undertaken over a few days or for up to six months at a time in a secure enclave within the building.

To watch the symposium and launch live on August 6, click here from 10am.