I’ve always said that I would love to be involved in a STEM career, except for a few barriers – those being science, technology, engineering and math.
So, I’m content to write about those subjects on behalf of my friends at Oklahoma Center for the Advancement of Science and Technology (OCAST) and i2E, Inc.
But that doesn’t mean that I can’t admire an awesome new facility like the Don Betz STEM Research and Learning Center on the University of Central Oklahoma campus.
UCO officially opened the new 57,000-square-foot facility with a ribbon cutting ceremony this past Wednesday. I was among about 200 people fortunate to attend.
After the speeches and the ribbon cutting, we were invited inside to check it out.
The Don Betz Center, named after the current UCO President, features state-of-the-art research and teaching labs for multiple academic disciplines and a striking lecture hall that can accommodate 80 students.
As I wandered the halls taking it all in, I encountered Dr. Thomas Kupiec, CEO of Oklahoma City’s ARL Biopharma and DNA Solutions. He and his wife, Carolyn, were visiting with Michael Carolina, OCAST executive director. I consider them all friends of mine and stopped to chat for a moment.
I knew that Dr. Kupiec was a UCO graduate, earning his undergraduate degrees there, but did not realize how involved he remains with the university. He is a member of the UCO Foundation Board of Trustees, and his Kupiec Family Foundation provided funding for the Betz Center’s lecture hall.
Dr. Kupiec pointed me to the lecture hall just across the corridor from where we were talking, so I walked over to check it out. A sign on the outside wall identified it as the Kupiec Family Foundation Lecture Hall, so I stepped inside.
The lecture hall is breathtaking, with theater style seating, sleek white tables and massive video screens scattered throughout.
The lecture hall also doubles as a storm shelter and is identified as such at the entrance.
The rest of the two-story Betz Center was equally impressive. I saw labs filled with microscopes and chemistry hoods. I toured a teaching facility for nurses that looked like an actual hospital room. I saw large racks of computer servers.
Hanging on the walls in the interior corridor were the original drawings of the building as envisioned by the architects at Elliot & Associates.
The Don Betz Center appears to be a perfect place to launch the next generation of chemists, health care professionals and research scientists for whom science, technology, engineering and math are no barriers.
Meanwhile, I’ll keep writing about it.