The Kansas Bureau of Investigation officially opened its new forensic lab on the Southeast side of Washburn’s campus Monday, Nov. 2.
The new, three-story building is 100,000 square feet and houses state-of-the-art crime labs, which previously were located in the basement of the former Crane Junior High School at 1620 S.W. Tyler St. The project cost $55 million to complete, and was funded by the Topeka Public Building Commission. The project is a result of a partnership between the university, KBI and the City of Topeka.
The building houses reserved areas for KBI research in biology, DNA, toxicology, chemistry, firearm/tool mark, latent prints, trace evidence and digital forensics. More importantly for future and current Washburn students, the building is home to an expanded forensics program. KBI forensic laboratories are located on the south side, while classrooms for students are on the north side.
Since the plans to build the lab, WU has added courses in digital forensics, forensic anthropology and forensic investigation. One hundred students have already signed up for classes in the new programs for Spring 2016.
A few spaces will be shared between Washburn students and KBI, including a crime reconstruction space and a 100-seat auditorium. Washburn faculty and staff are excited about the opportunity to have KBI scientists as guest lecturers and experts in classes to teach students real life applications. Faculty and KBI hope to retain and inspire graduating students to work for KBI in the same building after graduation.
Only a few university campuses across the nation have working forensic labs on their campuses. It is also the only one with shared space between the students and KBI scientists.
The opening and dedication included Governor Sam Brownback, Attorney General Derek Schmidt, KBI Director Kirk Thompson, Topeka Mayor Larry Wolgast and President Jerry Farley.
The building welcomed guests for a public open house Thursday and Friday from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. People who did not attend the open house will not have the opportunity to view the KBI side of building at a later date.