The University of Nebraska Board of Regents approved an $11.6 million expansion to the University of Nebraska at Omaha’s biomechanics research building on Aug. 11, 2017.
The construction will start in April 2018 and is expected to be complete by September 2019. The privately-funded expansion will add an additional 30,000 square feet, more than doubling the existing building.
The building, which opened in 2013, has become too small for the students and researchers housed there.
Ruth and Bill Scott gave $6 million to create the original building, said Dr. Nicholas Stergiou, the director of the biomechanics research building.
“I gave a talk down in Palm Springs and they just happened to be there. They thought it was worth the chance and they gave me the money to build the building,” Stergiou said. “I wanted to pay them back with my successes.”
He did in 2014, when the biomechanics research building earned UNO’s largest research grant. UNO was given $10.1 million from the National Institutes of Health, and UNO became the world’s first research center for human movement variability.
“We work with a variety of diseases, multiple sclerosis, amputees and stroke. The list goes on and on,” Stergiou said.
The program also offers a bachelor’s degree and a doctorate in exercise science with a focus in biomechanics. In order to provide more research opportunities for students, an expansion is necessary.
“Now we cannot fit in this building. We actually changed one laboratory to offices, one conference room to offices and our library to an office,” Stergiou said. “We just don’t have space.”
The expansion will take the research being executed at UNO to a new level, said Troy Rand, a doctoral student at UNO.
“I think for the university as a whole this is a big step. Opening the building four years ago established us as a research university,” Rand said. “This expansion is furthering the image that we are not just a teaching college, we are a research college.”
The larger building will also help Rand with his own research.
“This expansion will speed up the research process. This allows me to submit grants that would allow me to continue on as a researcher here,” Rand said. “Having this space available looks good for grants because it shows that I’ll have top-quality research.”
Dr. Stergiou said the biomechanics research building has already put UNO on the map, but improvements will add prestige to the already accomplished department.
“We are making history here,” he said.