Utah Tech University plans to expand to Desert Color

Desert Color is the area where a new part of Utah Tech’s campus will be built. Misha Mosiichuk | Sun News Daily

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Utah Tech University continues to adapt to the increasing enrollment numbers and follow through with the polytechnic vision. 

“We were awarded 183 acres at the Desert Color campus, so we are looking at an Innovation District, and we will do a lot of work with that this year,” President “Biff” Williams said during the 2021-2022 State of the University Address.

This expansion of the Utah Tech campus will provide opportunities for additional career-readiness options and ultimately enhance Utah Tech’s “Active Learning, Active Life” tagline. 

The Innovation District is conveniently located near residential areas. Not only will the expansion provide a place for students to learn, but it will also be a place for recreational activities and more housing.

According to Utah Tech’s preliminary prospects, “The District will provide high-impact and transformational opportunities for students to engage in active and applied learning with industry partners in laboratories, research and development facilities, business incubators and accelerators that advance career readiness of graduates.”

The 183 acres are 1.5 times larger than Utah Tech’s main campus and will have multiple uses such as:

  • Additional student housing
  • A variety of innovation-motivated academic buildings
  • Other specialized buildings that will be needed as Utah Tech’s enrollment increases over the coming decades

Some examples of the facilities are investment firms, wet laboratories, Makerspace, partner colleges and universities, specialized research laboratories and institutes, as well as restaurants and recreational opportunities according to Michael Lacourse, vice president of academic affairs and provost.

“I like to describe Innovation District as Atwood Innovation Plaza on steroids,” Lacourse said.

To ensure career readiness, the Innovation District will provide hands-on educational opportunities such as starting a business, research and internships. 

“We want the Innovation District to be a place where a large number of UT students can have a transformational experience with companies and organizations so they are career ready upon graduation,” Lacourse said.

Although the specifics of the funding plan are not finalized, a more detailed funding plan will be created over the next year. 

What we know:

  • “The UT Innovation District will be built through a public-private partnership with private developers (P3) and other potential sources, such as federal grants and philanthropic gifts,” Lacourse said.
  • Fee-for-service revenues such as rentals will also generate funds.
  • Equality participation in new business and intellectual property will bring money back to Utah Tech to fund the Innovation District.

“The formal planning process recently began and the timeline will be established early in the planning process,” Lacourse said. “The complete development of the UT Innovation District is likely to span one to two decades, but there will likely be an opportunity to break ground on the first building within the next two to three years.”