Clemson Computing Information Technology

Clemson University unveils revolutionary new Watt Family Innovation Center


CLEMSON – Clemson University has officially opened the doors of the new Watt Family Innovation Center.

The ultra-modern, highly-flexible facility in the center of campus, behind R.M. Cooper Library, is designed to be an innovative center where students, faculty and industry partners will collaborate, create, innovate and communicate using state-of-the-art technology and interactive learning systems.


The shiny new interior of the WFIC
A student walks through the shiny new interior of the Watt Family Innovation Center at Clemson University, January 2016.

The building is in many ways a model for 21st century education, said the center’s executive director, Clemson alumnus Charles Watt.

“Our mission always has been the 21st century education model recommended by the National Science Foundation,” Watt said. “We tried to incorporate what they recommended in our concept phase. We literally used the kind of ecosystems and holistic systems that they were talking about.”

Watt is confident that the innovation center will be the model for advanced academic buildings for all other universities. Every detail of the building is designed to foster creativity and collaboration, and pave the way for the flow of ideas and concepts between different disciplines at Clemson.

Dozens of state-of-the-art, interactive video screens are on every floor, which feature adjustable walls that can be easily moved or removed to modify teaching and meeting spaces.  Top-of-the-line communication connectivity is available throughout the building, and even the lights represent the latest in low-energy consumption lighting in the world.

“Each light has sensors, and they are centrally controlled and software-driven,” said Watt. “If it’s dark, you get more light. If it’s light outside they adjust accordingly. They even have sensors that can count the people in the building.”

Students study in the WFIC lounge
Students study in one of the common areas of the Watt Family Innovation Center, January 2016. (Photo by Ken Scar)

The exterior of the building features the largest media mesh grid in the country – essentially a two-story video screen that can be programmed to display graphics, animation and live video.

The mission of the center is to create an environment where collaboration between students, faculty and leaders from industry and government agencies generates ideas and solves complex problems.

“Our objective and vision is to experiment with how to do things better as a university,” said Watt.  “It’s the soft sciences as well as the hard sciences – and that’s sort of where you get to the fundamentals of how we teach in the future. It’s going to be cross-disciplinary.”

The Watt family gave $5.5 million to the university in 2012 as part of The Will to Lead capital campaign to raise $1 billion to support Clemson students and faculty with scholarships, professorships, facilities, technology and enhanced opportunities for learning and research.


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