The westernmost point of the Research Triangle is Kansas State University's Olathe Campus. By partnering with businesses in animal health and food production and safety, the campus finds innovative solutions to complex problems and tailors education, professional development programming, research and outreach to workforce needs.
The groundbreaking of the $28 million, 110,000-square-foot LEED-Silver certified facility took place in November 2009, and the campus opened in April 2011. It is outfitted with state-of-the-art laboratories and kitchens for research and development.
Since opening, K-State Olathe has made a significant impact and has seen enrollment grow to more than 200 students — a more than 140 percent increase since 2014.
The campus offers multiple masters and doctorate degree programs in the areas of animal health, food production and safety, and leadership and education. Degrees include Adult Learning and Leadership, Agribusiness (animal health cohort), Food Science, Horticulture (emphasis in urban food systems), Public Health and Veterinary Biomedical Sciences. Its Professional Science Master’s degree combines advanced scientific knowledge with professional skills to help meet the growing need for leaders in STEM professions. Five graduate certificates also are available to students to prepare them for a career in specialized industries, such as animal health regulatory affairs, and to help enhance their technical skills, professional and business knowledge and build hands-on experience.
A Hospitality Management bachelor's degree completion program was recently added to the campus' degrees' portfolio. It leverages community college partners to provide an easy educational pathway for students and a talent pipeline for Greater Kansas City's growing hospitality industry.
Responding to industry needs, the campus offers a suite of professional development workshops in animal health, business, leadership and presentation skills. Ongoing series focus on animal health regulatory affairs and leadership essentials. As of 2020, workshops have been attended by more than 2,400 professionals.
In addition, more than 48,000 K-12 students and teachers have participated in science and career programs and workshops. Engaging students and introducing them to STEM-based careers is important to the region's long-term workforce development needs.
The campus partners with diverse companies in the region, including leaders in the Kansas City Animal Health Corridor, which represents 75 percent of global animal health-related sales in the $30 billion global animal health industry. The corridor stretches from Manhattan, Kan., to Columbia, Mo., putting K-State Olathe in a prime location to collaborate with these companies and promote bioscience and technology.
Additional examples include:
• Several small, food-centric businesses and startups are using the campus' Food Innovation Accelerator to enhance their products and scale up their operations.
• Local and international companies contract with the Sensory and Consumer Research Center to conduct consumer research on food products. The center also has developed an emoji-based scale to universally measure how kids and non-English speakers feel about products.
• The Postharvest Physiology Lab received a state educational institution license from the Kansas Department of Agriculture to test industrial hemp grown in Kansas for five cannabinoids, including delta-9 THC and CBD. This testing helps growers determine their crop's cannabinoid levels before official regulatory testing. It is the only licensed lab in Kansas that can perform this analysis.
• The campus is home base for 1Data, a unique collaboration between K-State and UMKC that is developing a platform to share and convert vast quantities of pre-clinical human and animal health data into new medical drugs, therapeutics and technologies at a rapid pace. In turn, this saves and improves the quality of life for humans and companion animals.
• A partnership with K-State Olathe, Digital Sandbox KC and the City of Olathe is advancing startups in Greater Kansas City. Olathe entrepreneurs who receive funding from Digital Sandbox now also have access to K-State Olathe resources for collaboration, meetings, etc.
• Bureau Veritas, an international certification agency, operates a pet food testing laboratory on the campus. This is the company’s first site in the U.S. thanks to a partnership with K-State Olathe.