OSUIT Master Plan Addresses Future Technology, Workforce Needs

OSUIT Master Plan Addresses Future Technology, Workforce Needs

Sara Plummer
OSUIT Master Plan Addresses Future Technology, Workforce Needs

Oklahoma State University Institute of Technology rolled out a 25 year campus master plan for the 160-acre campus in Okmulgee that will take Oklahoma’s only university of applied technology into the next quarter century.

The OSU/A&M Regents heard the plan presentation at their regular meeting Friday morning held in OSUIT’s State Room. The board approved the development of the master plan in 2012.

While the plan includes campus beautification projects — additional water features, an expanded trail system and revamped entrances — its primary focus is on the development of facilities to meet increasing industry demand.

OSUIT President Bill R. Path said to his knowledge this is the first long-range master plan for the institution.

“This is a road map that can move us forward for the next 20 to 25 years,” Path said.
“We’re blending the campus heritage with its intended future. The campus looks nothing like it did when it was purchased post-World War II. We will naturally evolve, but now we have created the template to work from.”

Changes won’t be happening overnight, Path said. A four-person data collection team has already started touring major divisions and talking with division heads, program directors and instructors.

“We’ll find out what’s working, what isn’t working. The good, the bad and the ugly,” he said.

A feasibility study conducted with the OSU Foundation would be the next step in the process. New construction is dependent on several factors including available funding, current building conditions and program enrollment needs.

Path said the goal is to announce the next major construction project on the OSUIT campus later this year.

“There’s a case to be made for every building on this plan,” he said. “Within the next year we’ll get architects to start designing our next project.”

For more than a year, key stakeholder groups — OSUIT administrators, community leaders, industry partners, and campus constituents — collaborated with Dewberry, an architectural firm based in Tulsa, to develop the master plan.

The plan takes into account the growing demand for a skilled and qualified workforce from industries such as energy, information technologies, manufacturing and engineering.

“It’s not just about planning new walls to replace the old ones, but growing and upgrading to meet industry needs and trends,” Path said. “What makes this campus remarkable is the large laboratory environments that can house learning tools and equipment literally delivered by cranes. The instructional spaces are unique, setting us apart from any other university in the state.”

Dewberry Principal Bruce Henley said one challenge the master plan hopes to address is the overwhelming demand from companies to have access to programs like those at OSUIT.

The newest building on campus, the Chesapeake Energy Natural Gas Compression Training Center, is a perfect example of companies partnering with the university in order to construct a facility to educate students to meet an industry employment need.

The master plan process began when representatives from Dewberry took a comprehensive look at the campus and its infrastructure in order to analyze the buildings, classrooms and lab spaces.

“OSUIT is absolutely unique. We have gained so much respect for the history of the institution and the mission of the institution,” said Dominic Spadafore, project manager at Dewberry.

Because of the technical training and applied learning space needed at OSUIT, the required space for each student is almost double the guideline set by the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education, he said. Those spaces are occupied by students 71 percent of time, more than the average rate of 65 percent.

Having a master plan for OSUIT means designs for any new projects are made with a vision in mind, Path said.

“It allows you to make smarter decisions moving the university forward. Even small decisions like where to put a flower bed, or plant a tree, or put a parking lot,” he said.

Path has a lot of experience with construction on a college campus. During his 10 years serving as president of Northeast Community College in Norfolk, Neb., he oversaw the construction of 10 buildings on three campuses.

Henley said a lot of work has gone into the plan to make sure when construction does occur, it has as little impact on the campus as possible to limit the amount of disruption to the learning environment.

“You’re not building over buildings. New facilities will be constructed on current green spaces or parking lots,” he said.

And it won’t just be buildings that are changing. The plan addresses the issue of vehicular traffic through the campus, as well as better pedestrian walkways and gathering places for student gatherings.

For more information go to osuit.edu/masterplan.