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Miami plans possible $125 million project to build STEM facilities

Miami University is currently seeking builders and designers to plan two potential new buildings: a health sciences facility and a STEM/innovation building. The project is estimated to cost Miami a total of $125 million.

These facilities would provide opportunities for research and collaboration between scientific disciplines. In planning these projects, Miami hopes to expand its nursing, technology and engineering programs, among others.

The plan is a result of Miami's Boldly Creative Initiative, which was announced by President Greg Crawford in 2018. The initiative "will emphasize data, analytics and programs that span traditional disciplines to create engaged citizens and workplace leaders to benefit the Ohio economy," according to a report by the Cincinnati Business Courier.

David Creamer, vice president for finance and business services at Miami, said that the $125 million price tag is not definite.

"The estimate is just to convey the size and scope that the project would entail," Creamer said.

Construction of these facilities would most likely cause an increase in student enrollment at Miami due to demand for these expanded programs, Creamer said. However, he does not anticipate a need for additional student housing to accommodate this possibility.

The new facilities would be designed with sustainability in mind, as all new construction at Miami is held to a minimum standard of LEED Silver certification, Creamer said.

According to the U.S. Green Building Council, a building that earns at least 50 points in rating categories such as water efficiency, indoor environmental quality and innovation is certified Silver. However, whether or not these buildings are significantly more sustainable than regular ones is up for debate. Some environmentalists argue that a Silver certification is easily reached through simple feature modifications.

Jamie Kent, a senior zoology major with a pre-medical studies co-major, is involved in undergraduate research at Miami through the Broadening Undergraduate Research Participation (BURP) program. Kent said it was difficult to find a research opportunity on campus, but that her experience has helped her explore the different career possibilities available to her as a STEM major.

"Having facilities that present more research opportunities would allow more students to gain valuable research experience," Kent said.

The possibility of collaborative research across multiple disciplines also piqued Kent's interest. She said that working within a broader variety of subjects would allow students to more easily discover their passions.

"Lots of students feel confined to their majors, so interdisciplinary research would be a great opportunity for them to break out of their usual studies," Kent said.

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While the university has not yet determined whether it wants to go forward with these projects, it is actively soliciting applications through a request for qualifications.

"The university dedicating funds to facilities such as these demonstrates its commitment to undergraduate research," Kent said.