Kelly Underwood is a typical University of Wisconsin-Madison junior, scrambling to get into a class she desperately needs at the start of a new school year.
But finding a seat in a chemistry class here, and at UW-La Crosse and UW-Stevens Point, is an especially high-stakes race.
Buildings with science labs constructed 40 to 50 years ago weren't designed to keep up with expanding enrollments and evolving science, UW officials say. That's especially true as the number of students pursuing science-related fields grows exponentially to match workforce opportunities, and science encompasses emerging fields such as biotechnology and nanotechnology.
To meet the challenges, UW-Madison, UW-La Crosse and UW-Stevens Point are proposing a combination of new buildings and renovations costing a total of $260.5 million - $167.5 million of that in the 2013-'15 biennium. The UW Board of Regents last month voted to move the three science building projects forward, but the state Building Commission, Gov. Scott Walker and the Legislature also would need to approve the projects before construction could begin.