Dripping pipes, crowded classes and outdated equipment, oh my! The Utah State Legislature’s Infrastructure Committee met on Monday to discuss funding for the renovation and building of structures that are in the state’s interest. The projects ranged from the expansion on the Central Utah State Prison, to the state’s crime lab, and applied technical schools in Cedar City. Based on the Committee’s response, all the programs demonstrated their necessity. However, the program that appeared to be in need of serious assistance was Weber State University’s Science Program.
Currently, Weber has one lab facility on campus. Originally built in 1969, the building has been a landmark for the University, but with growing class sizes, aging infrastructure, and ill equipped rooms, the building is no longer proficient in providing students a modern laboratory experience.
Weber State University President, Chuck Wight, gave a video presentation outlining the reasons for funding. Taking accounts from faculty and STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) students, Wight’s accounts covered the subjects of fire safety, seismic safety, and lab facilities and accommodations.
“There is not a sprinkler system in there, so we have some fire extinguishers,” said one teacher during the presentation, “Thank goodness we’ve never [had a fire, because] it would be a nightmare.”
“When I turn on the facet in the lab building, I never know what to expect,” said one student, “sometimes there is no water, sometimes it is brown, sometimes it’s a strong burst of water or air.”
Last year, the state appropriated $2 million in state funds for designing the modern lab. Now, Wight has asked the Legislature to appropriate $57 million to build the new facility, with a sizable portion already raised through public donations and private investments. Named the Tracy Hall Science Center, named after the Weber State alumni who invented synthetic industrial diamonds, the building will be built over the ground of three existing halls.
Accord to Wight, Weber’s science majors have grown by more than 50 percent, with the program projected to continue growing over the next decade. Also, 84 percent of Weber STEM majors are employed three months after graduation. “Forty years of science change has taken place since our building was put up,” said Wight. There is no projected completion date as construction has yet to begin.