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UW Schedules Opening of Enzi STEM Facility to Avoid Student Disruption

June 18, 2015
people in man lift working high up on the front of building being constructed
Crews work on the exterior of the Michael B. Enzi STEM Facility, which will not open for classes until the spring 2016 semester. (UW Photo)

In an effort to avoid potential disruptions for students in undergraduate laboratory courses in the fall 2015 semester, the University of Wyoming will not open the Michael B. Enzi STEM Facility until the spring 2016 semester.

“It has become clear that due to construction delays, the building will not be ready for the start of classes in August,” UW President Dick McGinity says. “We are excited for students and faculty members to use this beautiful new facility, but we are not going to do so until the construction is finished and we have time to move all of the laboratories and make sure all systems are working well.

“This is a massive, complex move that requires proper safety measures for the movement of glassware and chemicals for labs -- and the expertise and time for the movement, re-installation and re-calibration of highly sensitive and expensive equipment. In addition, the building itself is quite complex, with new safety equipment that must be fully commissioned and tested.”

The Michael B. Enzi STEM Facility, named for Wyoming’s longtime U.S. senator, contains undergraduate laboratories in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics fields. The nearly 107,000-square-foot building houses about 32 laboratories, including teaching labs for introductory courses such as general chemistry, general biology, organic chemistry, elementary physics, mathematics, computational sciences, computer science and other large-enrollment lab courses. Eight preparatory rooms and eight offices also are included.

The new instructional laboratories will replace existing facilities on campus, many of which are outdated.

The project, administered by the Office of Construction Management in the Wyoming Department of Administration and Information, originally was scheduled for completion in May. While some parts of the facility may be finished before the start of fall semester classes, it now appears the building in its entirety will not be ready for occupancy until the semester is underway.

As a result, undergraduate laboratories this fall will continue to take place in the existing facilities. Student schedules for the fall semester reflect the accurate locations for these courses.

“The existing facilities certainly are adequate to assure a quality experience for students this fall,” says Danny Dale, head of the Department of Physics and Astronomy who chairs the Enzi STEM Facility Ownership and Programmatic Team. “With this approach, there’s no risk of disruption for students and their instructors that might come from a hurried or piecemeal move to the new building. We want to make sure that when the facility opens its doors to students, the new facilities are tested and fully ready to enhance our students’ experiences.”

Funding for the Enzi STEM Facility was made available through a 2011 Wyoming legislative appropriation of $50 million in federal Abandoned Mine Lands dollars.

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