Institute for Underground Science goes from idea to concept | Local news


LEADERSHIP – The idea of ​​developing an Institute for Underground Science at the Sanford Underground Research Facility (SURF) has grown into a multi-million dollar concept that will support international science initiatives at SURF, build community relationships through increased public awareness and will operate a world-leading education and awareness program that promotes close collaboration and integration with researchers and STEM K-12 programs.

On Thursday, Elizabeth Freer of Dialogue LLC, who worked with the SD Science and Technology Authority to research the Institute for Underground Science development, gave budget estimates for the construction and operation of the facility, which is expected to be built at the Ellison Complex. The Authority hopes that the Institute will serve as a global underground science-focused collaborating center for the international underground research community, as well as providing residential quarters and restaurants.

Freer said she worked with ARUP, an international design firm, and current Authority employees to project labor, non-labor and program development costs. Last July, the SD Science and Technology Authority approved a framework document that outlines the Institute’s vision and priorities. Based on that scoping document, Freer said the facility’s operating costs would range between $ 12.5 million and $ 22.6 million.

Freer also worked with Oppenheim Lewis, Inc., a full-service project management and cost consulting firm to develop estimates for building construction. Based on the Authority’s scoping document for an 88,000 square foot facility, as well as 32,000 square feet for housing, Freer said construction estimates are around $ 65 million for the facility. main, with a residential installation of $ 12 million. Those estimates, she said, are based on a six-year timeline for designing the building and developing the programs that would operate at the institute’s facilities.

Cost estimates aren’t set in stone, Freer told the board last Thursday, and they can be adjusted as the Authority refines its targets for the facility. But, Freer presented comparable operating budgets for similar facilities in Canada and the United States, and concluded that the SURF Institute’s estimates are in line with the operating and construction budgets of similar institutes in Canada. and the United States. Freer encouraged the Authority members to really focus and refine their plans for the Institute in order to guide decisions regarding the facility and to refine the budgets for the project.

“When we look at the amenities, parking lots, workspaces, and levels of technology built into the building, that will affect operating costs,” she said.

Following his presentation, Freer recommended that the Board of Directors hire a Director of the Institute to manage and take ownership of the institution’s program development process and to initiate the process of hiring teams for to start up.

“We are reaching the point where the Institute can no longer be a side job,” said Mike Headley, executive director of the SD Science and Technology Authority. “If we’re going to do that, we’ll have to take some of these things seriously and get the staff on board. “

The Institute for Underground Science is just one of the goals of the SURF Foundation, which was developed to raise capital for “the advancement of underground science and its global impacts”. Managed by a separate board of 10 people from across the state and nation, the Foundation aims to develop resources to inspire future scientists, reach out to the community to share information about SURF activities and discoveries, create space for scientific collaboration and develop the Institute for Underground Science.

In addition, the Foundation plans to develop an ethnobotanical garden, called the Sacred Circle Garden, which will serve as a place to protect, respect and understand the vibrant history of the region. The garden should recognize the diversity of the Black Hills and help people understand the indigenous cultures of the Hills.

SURF Foundation director Staci Miller told the SD Science and Technology Authority on Thursday that the fundraising for the SURF Foundation’s Sacred Circle Garden is going extremely well, with $ 428,468 of a goal of $ 800,000. lifted so far. In 2021, the Foundation’s donors have grown from 54 to 117, an average of 5.25 new donors per month.

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