The two-story building covers 52,000 square feet of space and contains over 20 industry-grade laboratories, replete with innovative technological equipment unique to each STEM program the university offers. In addition to the top-ranked undergraduate aeronautical/aerospace engineering program in the country, the STEM Center's facilities support degrees in astronomy, forensic biology, space physics, wildlife science, and the new bachelor's degree in Simulation Science, Gaming and Animation.
The $22 million center also includes the community-friendly Jim and Linda Lee Planetarium—the only Arizona planetarium north of Phoenix—capable of seating 125 students and visitors for captivating explorations into the furthest reaches of the universe in full 360-degree high definition.
"The Jim and Linda Lee Planetarium will delight students and residents alike with a variety of presentations," said Chancellor Dr. Frank Ayers. "It is much more than a planetarium, containing multimedia learning software that can display full-dome planetarium features that explore the planets and look into the complexity of the human body or modern spacecraft design. We will be learning about all of its capabilities this year and it will soon be open to the public."
The conception of Embry-Riddle's STEM Center has always carried with it the intention of serving a wider audience than just students and faculty. Between its impressive lab facilities and remarkable planetarium, the STEM Center will become an invaluable resource for local middle and high schools, as well as an epicenter for community engagement events year-round. The research-rich campus environment is capable of influencing local students and underrepresented groups in the community who previously had little to no access to STEM-based curriculum—such as young women and minorities—by exposing them to the possibilities of careers in high-paying professions that might have otherwise been unattainable.
"As a native Prescottonian and Embry-Riddle employee of 19 years, the opportunity to further the connection between the university and Prescott is very exciting," said Andy Fraher, Director of STEM Outreach. "To have Embry-Riddle's world-class academic program here in Prescott is amazing— add to that the social, cultural, and athletic events, along with events planned for the Jim and Linda Lee Planetarium for the public, this facility will undoubtedly deepen the bond between Embry-Riddle and Prescott."
Embry-Riddle has been an integral part of the Prescott community since its establishment in 1978, nearly 40 years ago. Ever since, Prescott and Embry-Riddle have become home to tomorrow's leaders in aviation and formed a reputation for excellence in the skies. Yet, since its beginning, Embry-Riddle has refused to rest on its laurels, challenging itself and its curriculum to forge new standards of excellence in industries reaching beyond aviation. In 2012, the university revealed its vision for a new, state-of-the-art Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) based learning center that would not only revolutionize Embry-Riddle, but its Prescott home and the surrounding Quad City area as well.
"Our university is now truly a STEM university. While we will never leave our deep aviation and engineering roots, we have expanded our offerings to include degrees in the sciences and technology," said Ayers. "We are so pleased to have raised funds from our friends in the local community, and across the aerospace industries that we support, to aid in the construction."
For a list of Embry-Riddle community events, please visit: http://prescott.erau.edu/campus-life/public-events/index