WKU dedicates new Disaster Science Operations Center

WKU(Mohammad Ahmad)
Published: Nov. 4, 2022 at 6:58 PM CDT
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BOWLING GREEN, Ky. (WBKO) - Western Kentucky University dedicated its news Disaster Science Operations Center Friday Nov. 4.

It’s located in Environmental Science and Technology Hall to bring together faculty, staff, and students from Meteorology, Emergency Management Disaster Science and Homeland Security Sciences to improve emergency disaster mitigation, management and response.

In a press release, President Timothy C. Caboni said, “Great universities inspire innovation, elevate communities and transform lives. The work we do through our new Disaster Science Operations Center does all three.”

Dr. Josh Durkee, University Meteorologist, said the idea to open DSOC came about after a trip to Phoenix in 2019 to visit and consult with Amazon, Inc.’s Global Security Operations Center.

“We returned to WKU with an idea for a blueprint that would become a testbed for a research-to-operations facility that offers a multidisciplinary experiential learning experience via the provision of tangible meteorological, emergency management, and health and safety services to WKU, its community, and public, private, and federal partners,” Durkee said.

The center has already received a Mitigation Project of the Year award from the Kentucky Association of Mitigation Managers at the group’s annual meeting held in September.

Durkee and Dr. David Oliver, the Emergency Manager, will serve as the faculty and staff directors for DSOC.

“What distinguishes the WKU DSOC is its direct tie-in to curricular programs and training,” Durkee said. “In return, this has created pathways for students across WKU to participate in national-level partnered service-learning experiences such as NASCAR races, the Special Olympics USA Games at Disney World, the Chicago Marathon, and more.”

Durkee also commented on the joint efforts required for making DSOC possible. “This effort has been brought to fruition through key internal support groups, including White Squirrel Weather and the Meteorology Program, the Department of Environmental Health & Safety, WKU Public Broadcasting, WKU ITS, as well as various programs, departments, colleges, and administrators across WKU, and backed by the Applied Research and Technology Program.”

“A fundamental differentiator for WKU is that we are a student-centered, applied research university. DSOC is a terrific example and supports our vision to provide opportunities for our young people to engage in hands-on, practical experiences that connect what they learn in the classroom to the real world. Our mission is to transform the lives of our students. Applied research, such as opportunities offered through DSOC, is a critical component of that transformative experience,” President Caboni said.