Engineers Week 2021 is a time to share how engineers are "Imagining Tomorrow" and recognizes the role engineers play in developing solutions to combat climate change, secure cyberspace, develop vaccines, and make the world a better place for all of us. At Wight & Company, our engineers work across projects and disciplines to accomplish these goals, and it's especially important to us to cultivate the next generation of engineers, whether through our internship programs, mentorships, and - importantly - in the spaces we design and build for clients. We take joy and inspiration from making it possible for students of all ages to discover new ways to explore and engineer their futures.

In the spirit of this theme, Wight Architect Leanne Meyer-Smith recently toured the new Northwood Middle School STEAM suite with North Shore School District 112 Superintendent Dr. Michael Lubelfeld to discuss the ways in which the art room, digital media center, and maker space were designed to work in concert to inspire students to pursue a future in these disciplines. This final product is a state-of-the-art facility borne out of a deep partnership with the District and direct input from students, educators, and the community.

After several years of conversations around building consolidation/ boundary adjustments, building assessments and facility master planning, District 112 commissioned Wight & Company to take a new, fresh look at their facilities. Of particular importance was a focus on a STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts, and math) suite for Northwood Middle School.

More than ever, curriculum is blurring the boundaries between academic subjects. Disciplines that have traditionally been taught in departmental “silos” are more frequently being conveyed as blended instruction that bridges subjects and instructors. STEAM and STEM are illustrative of only a few advantageous partnerships. With the insertion of "A" for the Arts, schools are finding natural relationships that equip students for real world problem solving. The need for students to be well prepared for careers in these fields is highly documented. The creative application of this knowledge is a critical skill to prepare our students to solve the challenges of the future.

Superintendent Mike Lubelfeld Ed.D., and Architect Leanne Meyer-Smith tour Northwood's STEAM Suite. Thank you, NSSD #112, for making this video possible!

The elements of STEAM instruction are contained in traditional classrooms and labs. The development of inter-disciplinary programs (and spaces to support them) that allow students to solve problems using aspects of all disciplines together is a major movement in educational facility design.

Wight & Company's core PK-12 team draws from best practices in teaching and learning. We always learn from our clients, while also gracefully challenging each client with ideas that will help “move the needle” forward. Our work has been widely recognized for excellence in the design of learning environments, which is indicative of the approach we take in shaping solutions to each client’s unique challenges.

Transforming a school building designed for prior generations is what we do best. The research, knowledge, and thinking that goes into the spaces and places we design for modern teaching and learning is what we are passionate about. We embrace our client’s challenges and work together to create learning environments aligned with the needs of the future – then we celebrate success together.