University of Delaware STAR Campus expands

The University of Delaware STAR campus continues to grow into a state of the art operation for the school and community partners.

So much so it may be hard for people to remember what the property looked like as the old Chrysler assembly plant now.

New structures are now being built on the site and existing ones are running out of space at UD’s Science, Technology and Advanced Research campus.

On Tuesday, University of Delaware leaders hosted a topping off ceremony, where officials signed the final beam for the STAR Tower. Construction crews then took that beam and put it in its rightful place- marking the end of the structural phase.

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“So in the tower, what we will be doing is really expanding the research that we currently have. We have run out of space,” said Dr. Kathleen Matt, Dean of the College of Health Sciences.

The STAR tower will house a relatively new speech graduate program and new research laboratories for local companies to use as well. The college will use utilize half of the space while other floors will be leased to companies in the field of science and technology.

“What I like to think about this new building is really being built on a theme and a focus on prevention and wellness and it’s all about the science of health,” Matt said.

Once the building is completed you’ll also find non-traditional classroom space – where a virtual reality is created for those in need of physical therapy.

“Our physical therapy program is number one in the nation, so it’s about helping individuals sort of live better,” Matt added.

On the campus now, there’s a virtual reality room where officials are focused on taking a look at how sensory information is processed.

“So that’s kind of the goal of this lab is to understand sensory processing and how that drives motor output so when you’re walking or standing how we use our eyes, the balance system in our ears and in our muscles, kind of position our body in space,” said Jaclyn Caccese, Post Doctoral Researcher. She’s already looking forward to more state of the art space on campus.

In 2009, UD purchased the sprawling Chrysler plant, creating the STAR campus. Bloom Energy became one of the first tenants. In a 2012 interview, K.R Sridhar, Bloom founder, explained why he chose to set up shop in Delaware.

“We wanted to build a factory that’s really close to our customer base. At the end of the day, it was about leadership,” Sridhar said.

That leadership included then-Governor Jack Markell’s administration and UD officials. Eventually the college of Health Sciences also relocated to the site. New plans now include train station improvements. Although there’s a lot to see now, officials say of the 272 acres – only 10 percent of the campus is occupied leaving plenty of room for growth.

“The STAR campus is the field of dreams. It is the place where the needs of society drive our education, our research, our engagement with society so that we can basically build better solutions for a better tomorrow. So we’re so excited about the STAR campus here at the University of Delaware and everything it brings for our people, our students and our state of Delaware,” said UD President Dennis Assanis.

If everything goes well with construction, the new tower will open by next August.

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