PNW breaks ground on bioscience innovation building

The Bioscience Innovation Building, described as a state-of-the-art STEM-centered facility, will house Purdue University Northwest's nursing and biological sciences departments. 

HAMMOND — Health care took a step into the future at Thursday’s ceremonial groundbreaking for Purdue University Northwest’s $40 million state-of-the-art Bioscience Innovation Building.

The 68,000-square-foot facility being constructed south of the Student Union and Library and east of Lawshe Hall on the Hammond campus will house Purdue Northwest’s College of Nursing and the Biological Sciences department. This department is part of the university’s College of Engineering and Sciences.

Construction began in July with completion expected by spring 2020.

Designed to encourage collaborative cutting-edge research and advanced STEM opportunities, the building will feature instructional laboratories and classrooms for the growing health care and bioscience industries, according to Doug Clark, director of strategic marketing & communications at PNW.

University officials and students joined local and state officials to celebrate the groundbreaking as the fall semester began.

One of the guest speakers, state Rep. Hal Slager, R-Schererville, championed the project at the Statehouse in an effort that resulted in a $35 million appropriation in state funds for the Bioscience Innovation Building.

“This institution, this campus, has become an anchor for Northwest Indiana,” Slager said.

“Our campaign to educate my colleagues in the Legislature was not only that Purdue Northwest was an anchor institution, but truly a gateway to Northwest Indiana,” he said. “What we are witnessing today is a transformational project for not only this campus, but all of Northwest Indiana.”

Health care now represents the No. 2 economic driver in Northwest Indiana, noted PNW Chancellor Thomas L. Keon during the ceremony.

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“There are many opportunities for Purdue Northwest to impact our students and faculty with this new building, and that flows over to all of Northwest Indiana,” Keon said. “We are truly grateful for the tremendous support for this project from our legislative delegation, donors and alumni, as well as faculty and staff.”

Senior Tiffany Coffey will graduate this December from the university’s College of Nursing program and plans to be a pediatric nurse. During the ceremony, she recognized what this new facility will mean to future PNW nursing students.

“With the new building, it will be really great to have a place we can claim as our own for nursing,” she said, noting that currently nursing students take classes in different buildings across campus.

College of Nursing Dean Lisa Hopp agreed.

“This will advance clinical simulation and lab space for our continually expanding program,” said Hopp. “We also were really focused on the vibrancy of our community initiatives, keeping our partners in mind when planning the space.”

College of Engineering and Sciences Dean Kenneth Holford, a biologist, said the new Bioscience Innovation Building will enhance research and teaching in the high-demand, high-paying bioscience sector.

“Included is an upgrade of our instrumentation to give our students and faculty researchers access to the latest technology, putting them on the forefront of fast evolving fields like microbiology, biotechnology and cellular physiology,” Holford said.

Kelley Sharp, a pre-veterinary studies honors student and goalkeeper for PNW’s women’s soccer team, credited the smaller class sizes and opportunities for student research at Purdue Northwest in preparing her for her dream of becoming a zoo veterinarian.

“The Bioscience Innovation Building will benefit students with updated lab equipment and provide them the opportunity to get involved in research allowing them to make a difference in a field they are truly passionate about,” Sharp said.

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