NORFOLK, Va. - Step inside the new $75 million chemistry and biochemistry building on the campus of Old Dominion University, and you're met with the electrifying 122-seat planetarium.
"This is the second largest in the state," said John Cooper, Professor and Chair of the Chemistry and Biochemistry department at ODU.
The Michael and Kimthanh Le Digital Theater and Planetarium will also double as a lecture room.
"The laser system in there is one of the top in the country," said Cooper.
A ribbon-cutting ceremony was held Tuesday for the state-of-the-art facility that will foster an including active learning atmosphere.
"What you see in the building is the best realization of the positive synergy between teaching and research," said Gail Dodge, Dean of ODU's College of Sciences.
With 24 research labs and 13 teaching labs, the new building is three times larger than the current one built in 1966.
One hundred and seventy-four windows make up the light-filled, four-story building that is home to 5,000 ODU chemistry students.
"These students are our future scientists, engineers; our doctors, dentists, pharmacists, nurses and researchers," said Cooper.
At 40%, ODU graduates the second highest rate of students in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) fields among doctoral institutions in the Commonwealth.
"At ODU, we give every single student the opportunity to research all four years students, and they often have the highest paying jobs when they graduate," Cooper explained.
Not only are the cutting-edge research labs expansive, but so are the common areas where students can congregate and study together.
"We have designed everything giving students an experience that is unparalleled," said Cooper.
Construction on the 110,000-square foot building began in the spring of 2019.