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Wichita State hopes to build engineering building, tech park

  • The Wichita Eagle
  • Published Thursday, Nov. 7, 2013, at 6:34 p.m.
  • Updated Friday, Nov. 8, 2013, at 8:16 a.m.

Wichita State University might soon finalize plans to build a 140,000-square-foot engineering building, the first of what President John Bardo hopes will be a multi-building tech park on campus.

“We are looking at putting together a new tech park, and … I think we have most of the funding lined up for a new engineering building,” Bardo said in an interview with The Eagle on Thursday.

Bardo usually waits until plans are more firmly drawn before announcing a new building, but decided in an interview on Thursday to reveal these plans, even though “nothing is quite set yet.” But on Monday, he said, he approved the general plans, and he is going to talk to the WSU faculty senate about the plans in early December.

The new building, projected to open by the fall of 2016, would go up near where Wheatshocker Apartments are, at the southeast corner of the campus. A parking garage also would be built there, on a campus where parking is often at a premium.

The residence hall would come down after construction of the engineering building is complete.

Of the 140,000 square feet, 60,000 will be dedicated to business research operations.

“Four private enterprise companies that need to work with our engineers will go in there,” Bardo said. Up to 20,000 feet of that space will be set aside for business incubator work.

There will be plenty of space left for educating undergraduates, he said.

Bardo said his more general plans include erecting two big engineering buildings – “Building One” and “Building Two.”

It looks like Building Two will be built first, which Bardo said jokingly “will be perfectly confusing to everyone.” Bardo said he loves plans for Building One, and that Building One will happen eventually. But that will replace nine of the 18 holes of the WSU golf course. Replacing Wheatshocker instead means “I don’t have to touch the golf course.” Yet.

This is the second major building project announced since Bardo became WSU president about a year and a half ago. The other project is well under construction: a new residence hall, built in what used to be parking lot space between the Morrison Hall administration building and Cessna Stadium.

The new building is part of Bardo’s strategy, which he’s described often in public: to tilt WSU even more than it already is toward engineering, technical transfer, creation of business innovations and public private partnerships. He said he hopes the new residence hall will increase enrollment – and revenue – and that innovation and business partnerships will boost the local economy, bringing even more revenue to WSU.

Reach Roy Wenzl at 316-268-6219 or rwenzl@wichitaeagle.com. Follow him on Twitter: @roywenzl.

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