The Power of Place
Professor, students and an alumni benefactor reflect on the educational and community benefits of the Gateway Academic Center
With The Power of Stevens campaign has come the much-needed addition of modern buildings, laboratories and renovated classrooms — elevating teaching, learning, research and campus life for Stevens students and faculty. One shining example at 6th and Hudson streets — the Gateway Academic Center.
The $68 million, 89,500-square-foot teaching and research facility opened in 2019, with a variety of new smart classrooms, laboratories, faculty offices and numerous study spaces and nooks behind its handsome brick facade. It serves many purposes, from being the new home of the Department of Computer Science and its laboratories to housing innovative healthcare and mechanical engineering labs to providing classroom, office and meeting spaces for students, professors and the Stevens community. More than 20 donors — many of them alumni — supported this structure with the distinctive two-story skybridge that blends gracefully along Hudson Street and is always bustling with activity.
One major donor is Gina Addeo ’86, chairman of ADCO Electrical Corp., president and owner of GMA Electrical Corporation and a longtime benefactor of Stevens. The Addeo Lecture Hall, a high-tech lecture hall on Gateway’s second floor, was named in her honor.
Addeo visited campus this fall to speak with just some of the many professors and students who teach, research, study and meet friends inside Gateway — to talk about their experiences with this building that has built a new sense of community. Joining her for the conversation (edited for length) were Samuel (Sam) Kim Ph.D. ’05, teaching professor and associate chair for undergraduate studies in the Department of Computer Science; Jacob Erickson, a data science Ph.D. student and aspiring data scientist for the technology industry; and Elizabeth (Lizzie) Chu ’22, an undergraduate chemical biology major and Phi Sigma Sigma sorority president (also Gina’s sorority) who plans to apply to medical school this spring.
STEVENS INDICATOR: Let’s talk about the campus before Gateway. Has this new building changed the way you teach, study and socialize?
PROFESSOR SAM KIM: The whole Gateway building — it’s something we’ve never had in the past. We in computer science had this unique building (the Lieb Building). I was telling Jacob — it was an old building. Professors had their own space, but they were all on their own. Gateway brings a sense of community with the students and professors. So, we have our own office spaces, but we’re surrounded by students. We recently had a bunch of professors talking in my office about the new schedule, and we wanted to get student feedback. So, we just walked outside my office where there’s a student study area, and we said to some students: ‘Hey, can we bother you?’ Just the sense of community is one of the most striking features.
JACOB ERICKSON: I think one of the things that I really like about this building is that there are a lot of great spaces to kind of sit and talk to other people, to be able to talk through issues, talk through problems. And you see a lot of that around here.
GINA ADDEO: I think, in general, modern, updated design and the new technology in the building — it just adds to the experience, to the feeling “Oh, I’m in a good engineering school! We have a nice building.” And that’s good.
LIZZIE CHU: So, while I was a freshman and a sophomore, Gateway was still in the process of being built. I would usually go to the library or my dorm to study. Sometimes those environments aren’t necessarily conducive. Gateway has the best of both worlds, where you can find space to be alone, but also have these collaborative and teamwork moments. Utilizing those classrooms after class for our own benefit has been really beneficial, like creating study groups and using those projectors and the whiteboards and really writing it all out. For all of us together, it helps a lot.
SAM: Like I said, collaboration. We are within their (students’) reach, and they’re within our reach, and it makes a huge difference. … I think there’s initially a barrier for students to climb over, but once they get to know us, they feel comfortable knocking on our door, asking for help and things like that. That just never before existed.
GINA: That’s huge — really? Wonderful to hear. Yes, I don’t think we knew our professors — not like that. Well, they had their space and did their thing, and we did ours.
SI: Professor Kim teaches database management undergraduate classes inside the Addeo Lecture Hall. Can you talk about the experience?
SAM: I think that the classroom is designed in such a way that I don’t have to do a lot of movement to get students’ attention, and it’s almost a theater-type of seating. As a lecturer, you want to be able to point out slides and be able to write. So, a lot of times, I just project it on the whiteboard and then write on top of what’s being projected in the lecture. In the Addeo Lecture Hall, we have two really nice projectors on both sides. And we have enough white spaces along the wall. It’s a huge advantage for me. I really enjoy it. It’s one of those things when you have something really useful and easy to use. Everything is so connected. I think it speaks volumes of the technology that’s built into this. But as an instructor who’s been here quite some time, it makes a huge difference.
GINA: I have a question. Where do most computer science students go after graduation? What industries do they end up in?
SAM: Obviously, there’s Wall Street and its banking systems. There are a lot of software industries around here as well. And quite a few students move on to graduate school. And then, some of the large tech companies with their locations in New York like Amazon and Facebook. And they command really good salaries, too. So, I think, on average, Stevens is doing far better than others. A lot of this has to do with how the school is managing the whole career services process.
SI: Can we talk about some of the research areas of the building?
JACOB: This year, it’s been really nice to have lab space in Gateway. We have four students in our lab, plus our adviser. And we all have a desk and equipment. It’s been a great space. It’s nice to have a space where we can meet, and actually discuss things, and it’s a lot more natural than just talking over Zoom. We’re actually there as a group collaborating.
SI: Gina, what inspired you to make this gift, which made the Gateway Academic Center possible?
GINA: When you see alumni names on places around campus, it inspires you to say: “I can be one of those people.” And that’s how it started. My family was always a generous family. So, when I left school and I had a job, I would send $100 a year to Stevens, and then it became $500, and it just kept increasing as my career got better… And [my giving] was also based on my experience here.
LIZZIE: Seeing Gina’s name up on that lecture hall, that’s so inspiring for all of us to see what we can do as women in STEM, women in business, especially at Stevens, where the population of women is still less than men and sometimes it’s hard to get some footing in the school and community. But Stevens and organizations like Phi Sigma Sigma sorority inspire us and help us succeed in our goals.
SI: Do you have a favorite spot inside Gateway?
LIZZIE: Definitely the back of the first floor [atrium], of Gateway South. I just love the lighting there. You have these higher tables, and I always eat breakfast there. I’ll sit there with friends and do group work. So, it’s a great space.
JACOB: There are a lot of great spots. Do you know the spots where you have windows and there’s a seating area, in the hallways of the second and third floors [overlooking Hudson Street]? It’s a nice spot to kind of just have more casual conversations
SAM: That big, wooden stairwell where you can sit around [the Rosa and John H. Hovey ’57 Staircase]. That’s really neat … that’s my favorite spot