By SARA GIBONEY
KEARNEY – The new applied-STEM building replacing the Otto C. Olsen building at University of Nebraska at Kearney will create cohesiveness, connectedness and continuity among faculty and students.
In January, University of Nebraska Board of Regents approved plans to replace Otto Olsen with a new million building on UNK’s west campus, and an Early Childhood Education Center proposed for the new University Village development south of campus.
“It’s going to be an exciting venture,” said Charlie Bicak, senior vice chancellor for Academic and Student Affairs. “This project is probably the most complex in the history of the University of Nebraska system. It’s certainly not the largest, and it’s certainly not the most expensive, but it’s complex in terms of impact on all four academic colleges.”
The Otto Olsen replacement building will feature state-of-the-art labs for virtual design/construction simulation, mechanical products and mechatronics, hydraulics/pneumatics, computer sciences, applied sciences, physics, engineering and research, in addition to a full-motion simulator and ITEC Testing Center.
The 80,000-square-foot building is projected to be complete and open by October 2019.
Most of the programs housed today in Otto Olsen will move to the new building: industrial technology, interior design, aviation, computer science and information technology.
Mathematics and statistics programs are being relocated to the new building from Founders Hall. Physics/astronomy and engineering programs also are relocating from Bruner Hall of Science to the new facility, allowing for an applied “science, technology, engineering and math” – or STEM – focus.
The glass and sculpture studio in Otto Olsen will move to the Fine Arts Building, and the Child Development Center, currently housed in Otto Olsen, will move to the new Early Childhood Education Center.
“A state-of-the-art building with new technology, and bringing in current practices happening out in the field, will help with recruitment and retention,” said Jim Vaux, chair of the Industrial Distribution Department. “A building doesn’t make programs, but it can enhance them. We have good solid programs here. A building creates a newness and excitement. You can bring new technologies into it and there’s functionality that it will bring.”
Otto Olsen was built in 1955 and has been on a capital construction list for at least two decades.
“Having basic functionality in classrooms and having the space to do innovative and creative projects is going to be critical for us,” said Sherri Harms, chair of the Computer Science and Information Technology Department.
Creating classrooms and labs that promote collaboration will allow students to work on innovative and creative projects, she said.
UNK will soon seek bids for an architectural consultant firm to begin working on identifying specifics on how the spaces will be utilized in the new building, Bicak said.
In an effort to create synergy in technology course offerings, Computer Science and Information Technology, now housed in College of Natural and Social Sciences, is currently undergoing a merger with Management Information Systems and Information Networking and Telecommunication, which are in the College of Business and Technology. The newly-formed department will be in the College of Business and Technology and housed in the new applied-STEM building.
“The combination of CSIT, MIS and INT provides a coherent depiction of technology and technology-related coursework, degrees and professional opportunities,” Bicak said. “Someone from the outside looking in today is probably a little confused about technology and who’s doing what.”
Bicak said interest among students continues to grow in science, technology, engineering and math, as does the demand in the workforce in those areas.
“It’s something our students are already excited about,” said Harms.
|The new Otto Olsen construction project will vacate and allow demolition of the current building and relocate programs to new and existing buildings as outlined below:|
|Industrial Technology||Business and Technology||New facility|
|Interior Design||Business and Technology||New facility|
|Family Studies||Business and Technology||West Center|
|Aviation||Business and Technology||New facility|
|Computer Science/IT||Natural and Social Sciences||New facility|
|*Math and Statistics||Natural and Social Sciences||New facility|
|**Physics and Astronomy||Natural and Social Sciences||New facility|
|Glass and Sculpture||Fine Arts and Humanities||Fine Arts Addition/Renovation|
|Child Development Center||Education||New Early Childhood Ed Center|
|*Relocating from Founders Hall|
|**Relocating from Bruner Hall|