- Associated Press - Monday, August 18, 2014

MOSCOW, Idaho (AP) - A new building to be constructed at the University of Idaho is designed to help spark new ideas, according to professor Holly Wichman.

The $49 million building is called the Integrated Research and Innovation Center.

“So the plan is to get people from lots of different disciplines rubbing shoulders with each other every day,” Wichman told The Lewiston Tribune. “You need people to rub shoulders and talk about things to get ideas going.”

Wichman, a professor in biological sciences, said she believes that type of interaction will lead to more innovative thinking and new ideas. It also will teach students how to work together on a common project or research initiative.

The groundbreaking ceremony for the 69,000-square-foot building will be Friday morning.

UI Vice President for Research Jack McIver said the interdisciplinary concept means several different people will study large-scale issues that pose problems for Idaho and the region.

An example of the type of work to be done at the center is wildfire research, he said. That research could include people who study fire behavior, how fire affects the soil, water and trees and plant life, as well as economists who look at financial impacts of wildfires, McIver said. Topics like urban interface and climate change are also related to wildfires.

During his career, McIver said he has seen a trend toward a more interdisciplinary and collaborative approach to addressing large-scale issues. He thinks that’s because people realize that big problems are complicated.

The center is being financed primarily through bonds, which will total $44 million of the total project cost. The remaining $5 million will be funded through state aid and money within the university budget.

When completed, the building will have three levels, with spaces for wet and dry laboratories to do hands-on experiments or computer modeling, as well as meeting areas.

Construction is expected to take about two years.


Information from: Lewiston Tribune, https://www.lmtribune.com

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