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STEM Facility to be Built on North Side of UW’s Campus

May 6, 2011

A technology teaching laboratory that will provide University of Wyoming students an opportunity to receive valuable training for post-graduation careers will be built on the north side of the UW campus.

The Michael B. Enzi STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) facility will be constructed on UW property located north of Lewis Street between 10th and 11th Streets. Funding for the building was made available through a 2007 appropriation of Abandon Mine Land (AML) funds. Groundbreaking is planned next spring.

The STEM facility is for teaching laboratories for introductory courses such as general chemistry, general biology, organic chemistry, elementary physics and other large-enrollment laboratory courses involving more than 100 students per semester. The facility will not house research laboratories.

"The facility will address modern and emerging technologies and teaching methods in the sciences, in light of which many of UW's existing teaching labs are outdated," Douglas H. Vinzant, UW Vice President for Administration told UW Board of Trustees Thursday.

He says botany laboratories were last remodeled in the 1950s, while zoology and physiology, chemistry, and physics laboratories remain essentially the same as when constructed nearly 45 years ago. UW has spent maintenance funds to meet the basic health and safety requirements associated with its existing facilities, Vinzant says, but expenditures "fall well short of providing truly modern lab facilities."

The pipeline of college students entering STEM disciplines is a timely topic nationwide, he adds.

"UW has a role to play, not only by providing such high-end opportunities as a School of Energy Resources and a supercomputing partnership with the National Center for Atmospheric Research, but also by offering modern laboratory facilities for the foundational courses that are required for students to prepare for these opportunities," Vinzant says. "Many of UW's transfer students have experienced the up-to-date, high-quality lab facilities at Wyoming's community colleges. UW's first- and second-year students need access to comparable facilities."

A completed scoping study estimates that the facility will be more than 98,000 square feet, which will house approximately 28 laboratories, 10 preparatory rooms and about eight offices.

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