DSU dedicates new optical science center

DOVER – Instead of using the traditional oversized scissors to cut through the red ribbon, a laser was used at a ceremony Friday afternoon to unveil Delaware State University’s new Optical Science Center for Applied Research, more familiarly known as OSCAR.

“This is a exciting day for the University, it’s an exciting day for Dover, for Delaware, the nation, and for the world,” Dr. Noureddine Melikechi, the founder of the optics department said.

Dr. Melikechi started the optics program at DSU in 1995 and in 1997 moved the program into the first advanced technology center in Delaware which was built at DSU with funding from the state, then from the federal government.

The program has been growing and evolving since, leaving the new three-story, prism-shaped building the new home to 19 faculty members, two research staff, eight administrative staff, 48 undergraduate students and 18 graduate students all working on projects ranging from nanotechnology to data collection on Mars.

The mirrored building is only phase one of two and is planned to be joined with a second similar building in the near future once funding is secured, but the completion of the first phase stands on a date of great importance.

“On Dec. 20, 2013, the United Nations proclaimed 2015 as the International Year of Light and Light-Based Technologies. So, for us in Dover to be a part of that is really great because it’s being celebrated all over the world,” Dr. Melikechi said.

Dr. Melikechi has been dreaming of an optics lab like OSCAR for years to further the research in the field, right here at home.

“Our job now is to make this dream a reality,” Gov. Jack Markell said. “Even though the building is up and running, that’s just one step to a greater project.”

During Gov. Markell’s tenure, the Delaware legislature provided $10 million in funding for the $18 million facility which will not only attract the very best students, teachers and researchers from all over the world, but new and expanding businesses as well.

The building has shared-use labs on its first floor which will allow outside businesses and organizations to rent space and technology to further research even outside DSU and its current affiliates like NASA and the National Science Foundation.

“When I reflect on what’s happening and the tremendous progress that Delaware State University has made in the sciences and technology, particularly in light, I can only be hopeful and humbled by the possibilities this new building will offer,” Dr. Melikechi said.

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