Ground-Breaking Set Sept. 22 for New WSU Institute for Shock Physics Building

PULLMAN, Wash. — In early 2003, Washington State University’s internationally recognized Institute for Shock Physics will be in a new home.

Ground-breaking for the shock physics building is set for 12:30 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 22, at the construction site next to Webster Physical Sciences Building, where most of the institute is located. The event is open to the public.

Making comments beforehand will be Yogendra Gupta, institute director and physics professor; Regent Peter Goldmark; Leon Radziemski, WSU College of Sciences dean; V. Lane Rawlins, WSU president; and state Rep. Shirley Hankins, R-Richland.

A total of $12.4 million from the Washington Legislature funds the building’s construction. Lydig Construction Co., Spokane, is the general contractor.

Through a partnership with the U.S. departments of Energy and Defense, DOE provides the institute with ongoing basic research and training support, and the university provides research facilities and related support. The response of materials under shock wave conditions helps the DOE determine the reliability of the nation’s nuclear stockpile in an age of nuclear test bans.

“Over the next few years, WSU will realize many times its original investment dollars through this handshake agreement,” Rawlins said.

The new three-story building will give the institute some 33,300 gross square feet, three times more space than the institute has in Webster. There will be more laboratories and other institute facilities, including a new laser laboratory and a new high-pressure laboratory.

As part of the project, some Webster classrooms and auditoriums will be renovated. In the new building, graduate instruction will be provided through distance course delivery to DOE national labs around the country.

Shock wave research at WSU began in the late 1950s. In the following years, as WSU’s research in the field broadened and federal funding increased, its name changed. In 1967, the Shock Dynamics Laboratory was created. It became the Shock Dynamic Center in 1992 and adopted its current name in 1997.

“Thanks to the influential research of Yogi Gupta, the institute brings considerable visibility, prestige and important technical benefits to our university and the state,” Rawlins said.

WSU’s long tradition of excellence in the field is reflected in the fact that the majority of U.S. shock physics scientists have emerged from the university, he said.

In addition to attracting the brightest undergraduate and graduate students, Gupta has obtained considerable federal funding, including $10 million from the DOE and $5 million from the Office of Naval Research just in the last three to four years. The new facility will house $5 million in equipment through funding from various agencies.