concept art for lab space

Image by Mohammad Dastmalchi and Breanne Dale


March 24, 2021
Contact: Kenny Gerling,

The University of Missouri and AT&T are collaborating on an innovation lab in Cornell Hall that will bring full 5G+ millimeter wave capability to MU’s campus. The research and teaching space will feature the bandwidth and the capacity for students and faculty to be on the forefront of innovation.

“5G is not just for phones,” said J. Scott Christianson, an associate teaching professor in the Trulaske College of Business. “Drones and autonomous vehicles need data connectivity, and 5G provides wireless speeds that help move computingpower to the edge of the network.”

Christianson added that 5G opens opportunities to explore new use cases that could create value and transform experiences for consumers, enterprises and society.

Ajay Vinzé, dean of the Trulaske College of Business, said he was enthused with the potential this lab presents and expects it to contribute to future discoveries and an innovative set of hands-on learning opportunities at Mizzou. “5G is not the answer, it’s a catalyst,” he said. “It will be an enabler for innovation in both the delivery and consumption of higher education.”

A powerful team

The lab is part of an ongoing collaboration between Mizzou and AT&T to share technology and help craft the future of 5G-enabled devices and applications. The relationship has already generated an interdisciplinary course on 5G innovation called “Connectivity and 5G.” That course, taught in spring 2020, brought students and faculty from five different colleges together with AT&T representatives. Using in-depth research and access to AT&T resources, including a visit to AT&T headquarters in Dallas, students created proposals for 5G-powered solutions in fields such as health care and campus security.

Future interdisciplinary opportunities will use the lab’s powerful resources to connect industry expertise with Tiger innovation. One course in development will explore the potential of creating kiosks around Mizzou’s campus that use immersive technologies to reduce anxiety and improve mental health. The idea for the kiosks originated in past student proposals to AT&T.

“The innovation catalyzed by the intersection of education and technology is what makes our future so bright,” said Anne Chow, CEO, AT&T Business. “We saw with last year’s 5G course, students were able to create new solutions around healthcare and campus security. Bringing 5G to Mizzou’s emerging technology lab and campus will further enable students to explore new experiences, solve complex problems and create new ideas to change the world.”

Bimal Balakrishnan, associate professor of architectural studies in the College of Human Environmental Sciences, and a lead contributor to the spring course, said, “With this new lab on campus, ideas can quickly transfer from experimentation to implementation. It opens a lot of doors for students to go beyond state of the art and it pushes us into emerging technology well ahead of many other schools.”

A wide variety of potential 5G applications are already being explored by MU students and faculty, including how they could transform telemedicine by enabling remote surgeries and how reporters could use augmented reality to create immersive journalism.

“The University of Missouri is a vibrant academic community with a strong focus on leadership and real-world skills. It is of one of only six public universities in the country with schools or colleges of medicine, veterinary medicine, agriculture, arts and science, law and a powerful research reactor – all on one campus,” said Alyson Woodard, vice president and general manager for AT&T. “Our collaboration is all about taking innovation across different disciplines and creating solutions that can be used in the real world. We are excited about the opportunities that 5G will create to increase the pace and capacity for innovation at the university.”

Looking ahead, changing the world

The lab is the latest initiative from the University of Missouri Institute for Experiential Education, Innovation and Entrepreneurship. The institute unites members of schools and colleges from across Mizzou to facilitate collaboration, knowledge sharing and entrepreneurship — all with the larger goal of creating innovations that contribute to student success and address the challenges facing Missouri and communities around the world.

Jim Flink, associate professor of strategic communication in the Missouri School of Journalism and a leader in this effort, said that the institute is founded on a principle of interdisciplinary collaboration. “If you look at what the economy wants, you need both depth of knowledge in a discipline and the ability to cross-connect dots with other disciplines,” he said.

Vinzé summarized: “Mizzou’s unique position as a comprehensive university with 13 schools and colleges makes it an attractive partner for AT&T. Working with an industry leader like AT&T opens up a world of possibilities for our students and the institute.”