WSU moves ahead with Innovation Campus concept

Wichita State University’s planned Innovation Campus is moving rapidly ahead, university vice president John Tomblin told the Wichita Aero Club during a luncheon Tuesday.

Tomblin said he would head to Las Vegas on Tuesday to meet with Dassault Systems, maker of Catia industrial design software as well as a line of business jets, about coming to WSU’s campus as an industry partner. Dassault, he said, is looking at creating a center of excellence in the U.S. Tomblin said to expect an announcement soon.

He said WSU’s National Institute of Aviation Research is adding two new laboratories – to study lightning strikes on aircraft and to study bird strikes on aircraft – at the institute’s testing facility in the former Kansas Coliseum.

The Innovation Campus is set to break ground on its first building in March or April, the Experiential Learning Center. WSU’s plans call for a series of industry-owned research laboratories. Tomblin said he expects to break ground on the first of these as soon as the learning center opens.

WSU is also about ready to put out a request for proposals for a large commercial mixed-used development at 21st and Oliver, he said. The project is envisioned as five apartment/restaurant/retail buildings, plus a hotel. He said there would be space for 16 restaurants.

The Innovation Campus, he said, “will essentially double the size of the campus.”

The luncheon crowd at the Doubletree by Hilton Hotel Wichita Airport also heard from Victor White, Wichita’s director of airports. White provided an update on the construction of an airport terminal, which is scheduled to open in the spring.

Reach Dan Voorhis at 316-268-6577 or Follow him on Twitter: @danvoorhis.