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April 29, 2013
University researchers began moving into the 330,000-square-foot Baylor Research and Innovation Collaborative (BRIC) this spring. The facility is the culmination of a long-standing vision of a Central Texas discovery park which would foster economic development by promoting the growth of innovative, technology-based research.
The vision began to take shape in 2009 when the Clifton Robinson family and H. Bland Cromwell donated the former General Tire facility and surrounding 21-acre site to the University. With support from community partners including McLennan County, the cities of Waco and Bellmead, the Cooper, Waco, and M.D. Anderson foundations, the Greater Waco Chamber of Commerce, and Texas State Technical College Waco, the former manufacturing facility has been transformed into a state-of-the-art center for research, innovation and industrial partnership.
The interdisciplinary environment of the BRIC reflects the growing consensus that the most important, cutting-edge research happens in collaborative environments where many perspectives come together to solve the pressing issues of our time. Approximately half of the BRIC will be occupied by Baylor departments, centers and institutes. Research occupants of the BRIC include the Center for Spatial Research (CSR); the Center for Astrophysics, Space Physics and Engineering Research (CASPER); LAUNCH, an innovative business accelerator of Hankamer School of Business; and the Baylor School of Engineering and Computer Sciences (ECS).
The electrical engineering department conducts research in advanced avionics, real-time data acquisition, circuit board prototyping, microwaves and circuits, medical instrumentation and wireless communication. Additionally, the newly outfitted labs in the BRIC for engineering will support ongoing graduate research projects funded by local industry as well as the new PhD program in electrical engineering.
The CASPER lab conducts basic and applied research at the intersection of math, physics, astronomy and engineering through collaborations with a wide range of national and international partners. The Center for Spatial Research (CSR) facilitates research on diverse topics by using spatial data, which integrates geographic data with other observed information, to create models that help researchers address issues of global importance.
Two well-established and highly regarded researchers who have been conducting collaborative research for decades will also move their labs to the BRIC. Dr. Lea Steele, an epidemiologist and research professor at Baylor's Institute for Biomedical Studies, and Dr. Marlan O. Scully, National Academy of Sciences member and distinguished research academician of science and engineering, will join the cadre of interdisciplinary researchers at the BRIC in the coming months.
Scully, known around the world for his groundbreaking work in quantum optics, holds faculty appointments at Texas A&M, Princeton and Baylor. Scully's reputation opens doors to labs, facilities and researchers across the nation. His wide-ranging research interests hold the potential for national and international impact in numerous areas including industry, medicine, renewable energy efforts, and at-range detection of bio-chemical agents and air pollution.
Steele, along with an interdisciplinary team of local and national researchers, is funded by the Department of Defense for her work aimed at discovering the biological characteristics of Gulf War Illness in order to facilitate the diagnosis and treatment of veterans who served during the Gulf War. Her collaborations include work with Scott & White Healthcare, the VA Center of Excellence for Returning War Veterans and the schools of public health at Columbia and Boston universities.
When fully operational in 2016, the BRIC will assemble under one roof a unique combination of University research and industry collaboration, workforce development and training, K-12 science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) initiatives, and business incubation through LAUNCH.