KBI and Washburn University break ground on new forensics laboratory

Representatives of the KBI and Washburn University breaking ground on the new forensics laboratory April 30, 2014.

Kevin Sullivan, [email protected], is a senior nursing major.

The groundbreaking ceremony was held April 30, 2014 for the new KBI Kansas Bureau of Investigation forensics laboratory that is to be built on Washburn University’s campus. The building will be located at the south end of the Petro parking lot just to the north of Durow Drive. Almost all of the offices in this facility will be for laboratory staff. and The KBI administrative offices will remain in their current location on 17th Street. When it is completed, the approximately 100,000 square foot facility will be home to all of the forensics laboratories for the Kansas Bureau of Investigation KBI.

Construction on the facility is expected to begin during the week of May 19, 2014, immediately after the spring commencement weekend is completed at Washburn University. In other words, this means that construction of the building should commence during the week of May 19, 2014. Officials are hoping that the project will be completed in October or November of 2015. This would mean that the first full semester when the facility would be available for use by Washburn University students and faculty would be in the spring of 2016.

About 70 lab scientists and technicians will work at this facility once it is completed. The project is expected to cost around $55 million and Washburn University plans to issue bonds to pay for the construction of the building. The State of Kansas will repay those costs and also the costs associated with the building operations through a master lease that will cover the life of the building. In other words, this means that the KBI will own the building and lease the land from Washburn University.

Once this project is completed, having this facility on campus will benefit several academic programs at Washburn University. Students will be able to use the facility’s laboratory spaces for anthropology, criminal justice, digital forensics like such as computers and mobile devices, and forensic chemical science like chemistry and biology. Having this facility on campus will also allow for new programs in the areas of biological, computer/digital, and anthropological forensics.

Dr. Randy Pembrook, vice president of academic affairs said in an email that some students of Washburn will be designated as interns to work on the KBI lab side.

“All will get great hands on experience,” said Pembrook.

According to the construction website online at washburn.edu/construction, students will be able to use about 11,000 square feet of the laboratory space in the building. Internships for students and adjunct instructor opportunities for the KBI staff members are among some of the collaboration opportunities that will be explored once the building is completed. 

“Washburn University and KBI have been collaborating regarding space, curriculum and faculty elements for over two years to make this building and the various programs a reality,” said Pembrook. “Collaborations will continue as the building begins construction and as we continue to refine our programs and recruit students and faculty​.”