Wind, rain and dreary skies didn’t deter dozens of EWU students, faculty, staff, and invited dignitaries from gathering outdoors to mark the long-awaited opening of Eastern’s Interdisciplinary Science Center (ISC).
The Oct. 22 ribbon-cutting celebrated the transformational role the 100,000-square-foot ISC will play in advancing Eastern science and scholarship, especially instruction and research conducted by faculty and graduate students in EWU’s College of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics.
Now that in-person learning has resumed, EWU students are already reaping the benefits of the center’s four floors of cutting-edge laboratories, classrooms, study areas and faculty workspaces.
David May, EWU’s interim president, joined David Bowman, dean of the university’s College of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics, in opening the ceremony with thanks for those who made the $67 million center possible.
Among those honorees were state lawmakers Sen. Jeff Holy, R-Cheney, and Rep. Marcus Riccelli, D-Spokane, each of whom were instrumental in helping EWU secure state funding for the project. Both spoke briefly to the crowd.
Holy, a ranking member of the Senate Higher Education & Workforce Development Committee, touted EWU as a “best value” in higher education, saying that Eastern has produced the highest percentage of STEM graduates of any other state college over the past 8 to 10 years. Eastern, he said, is a proven leader in higher education.
Riccelli offered that the world-class ISC further distinguishes Eastern Washington in the higher education realm, adding, “We’re not the other Washington anymore.”
In his remarks, May described how instruction at the ISC will be instrumental in positioning Eastern students as a driving force in regional research and innovation.
“We have been eagerly awaiting this day, the opening of this building is special,” said May. “Just one month ago our students were finally able to set foot inside what has remained mostly vacant for just over a year. They finally have the opportunity to learn in this dynamic, hands-on environment of teaching, learning and discovery.”
The ISC building, designed by Seattle-based LMN Architects and constructed by Spokane Valley-based Lydig Construction, Inc., was praised for its artistic flair, which bridges geological history with cutting-edge functionality.
A more literal bridge comprises one of the ISC’s most striking features — a glass-enclosed walkway linking it to the original Science Building, which will soon to be reinvented as a state-of-the-art research hub.
When fully renovated, the Science Building will become part of a “science-innovation complex” aimed at advancing faculty research and giving students a leg-up on future academic and professional careers. As home to advanced labs and research workspaces, the renovated Science Building will usher in a new era of scientific investigations at EWU, one involving far more federal and state support for Eastern research.
A goal of the twin facilities is, in part, to help EWU meet the increased demand for science courses due to the growing interest in STEM fields. Undergraduate science students will take core classes in the ISC, while more advanced students will explore hands-on research experiences at the renovated Science Building. Together the linked buildings will allow STEM students near boundless opportunities to future-proof their careers.
“A new building is a wonderful thing, but it’s really the activities in the building, and the people that it touches that really matter,” said Bowman. “From the geology labs on the ground floor, to Jim Martin STEM Student Senate Chambers on the third floor, this building is for students — a place where future scientists, business people and community leaders can build a fabric together while learning about the sciences and technologies that have, and will continue, to shape our world.”