Community Celebrates Grand Opening of Missouri Innovation Campus

A progressive partnership between Lee’s Summit R-7 School District, Metropolitan Community College, and the University of Central Missouri (UCM) is reshaping the way students experience education at the new Missouri Innovation Campus (MIC) in Lee’s Summit, Mo. DLR Group and design partner Gould Evans created an environment that focuses on learner outcomes in an immersive and rich real-life workplace experience. More than 500 students, parents, staff, business partners, and community members celebrated the new facility at a grand opening ceremony on September 5.

Through the MIC program, students begin their junior year of high school while attending Summit Technology Academy, a unique high school program that prepares students for careers in areas such as engineering, computer science, health care, and creative sciences. In approximately the same time it takes students to complete their high school curriculum, they will have earned an associate’s degree from Metropolitan Community College, and can finish their four-year bachelor’s degree from UCM two years later. Graduates will have completed three years of paid internships with prestigious Kansas City metro-area companies, which helps defray the costs of their education and provides students with job-ready skills that are highly sought after by businesses around the world. The facility also houses UCM Lee’s Summit, the University’s main off-campus learning facility, offering graduate and undergraduate level completion programs to metro area students.

“Teaching and learning happen everywhere at the Missouri Innovation Campus. The facility is designed with labs, flexible spaces, and hoteling spaces to create incidental contact that results in collaboration between students, educators, and business professionals,” said DLR Group Principal Kevin Greischar, AIA. “Industry leaders are encouraged to use the conference center and hoteling stations to see and be seen by the students, and be part of the day-to-day activity on campus.”

The new 135,000 SF building design features 60 classrooms including shared spaces for the school district and university programs as well as spaces designated for each organization. MIC also features medical school-caliber skilled nursing labs and simulation rooms, professional quality digital media technology, high-tech engineering, bio medical, and computer science instruction areas, and an international studies area with state-of-the-art distance learning technology. The programs – networking, engineering, medical, bio medical, graphics, hospitality, and cybersecurity – are distributed into each quadrant of the building’s two floors for ease of wayfinding.

“This Missouri Innovation Campus is a shining example of what happens when organizations and individuals work together for a greater good,” said Dr. Dennis L. Carpenter, Lee’s Summit R-7 superintendent. “Thanks to our partnership with higher education and the support of our community, we are able to save money for taxpayers and, most importantly, better prepare our students for success in life.”

Through the trailblazing partnership, the Lee’s Summit R-7 School District and UCM joined forces to construct and operate this state-of-the-art, cost-saving facility. Under a plan developed by the two educational institutions, Lee’s Summit R-7 is funding approximately 40 percent of the new school with UCM paying the remaining 60 percent. Through this agreement, Lee’s Summit R-7 is the sole owner of the facility with UCM remitting its portion of costs through lease payments. The shared facility reduces operating expenses for both organizations and allows the school district to move both the Missouri Innovation Campus and Summit Technology Academy programs from leased space into a building owned by Lee’s Summit R-7. The R-7 School District’s portion of the facility’s cost is funded through a no-tax-increase bond issue, approved by approximately 80 percent of voters in 2015.