Top dollar, top notch

In some departments, tools for higher education come at a higher cost

Todd Miller Collegio Reporter

Every department at PSU needs computers and office supplies, but what about the high-dollar stuff?
The Nursing Department has not long ago purchased a special mannequin, estimated to cost about $80,000. This mannequin can simulate human breathing, blinking, bleeding and urinating. It weighs about 160 pounds.
The Nursing Department also has three other similar mannequins, but the newest one is highly prized because of its mobility. It runs on a battery pack and connects wirelessly to the department’s computers. The other three mannequins are tethered by wires.
Although the Music Department has a lot of expensive instruments that it lends to students who would otherwise not be able to buy them, the most singularly expensive, by far, are the grand pianos, valued at about $100,000 each. Instrument costs range from $4,000 up to $15,000 (including repairs). The department’s new electric piano cost about $30,000 to $40,000 alone.
The Engineering Department’s most expensive piece is its melting furnace, priced at about $110,000.
The Biology Department’s DNA amplifier is valued at about $25,000, but it spends money on non-equipment as well; $30,000 is spent a year on enzyme substrains and $10,000 per human cadaver. The department’s gas chromatograph, used to separate and analyze compounds that can be vaporized without decomposing, is valued at $54,000. However, they also have a gas chromatograph that is combined with a device used to measure the mass of vaporized substances. This machine was donated to the Biology Department, but is valued at $160,000.
Out in Greenbush is the Physics Department’s telescope, which cost about $200,000. Physics students and professors can use the telescope for their studies, but the observatory is also open to the public during certain events. The Physics Department also uses various microscopes, such as an atomic-force microscope, an electron telescope or a polarizing microscope. Each is valued at about $50,000.
The Graphics and Imaging Technology Department has a number of valuable printing presses, but the most expensive of them all is its four-color screen printing press, which costs about $230,000, which is double the cost of its second most expensive press, the MHM screen printing press.
The Chemistry Department’s most expensive piece of equipment is the NMR (also known as MRI) machine, valued at about $250,000. The department also has a molecular modeling station ($17,000-$18,000), an atomic absorption spectrometer ($25,000) and a bomb calorimeter ($10,000). According to Khamis Siam, chair of the Chemistry Department, Pittsburg State University is one of the very few undergraduate universities that permits undergraduate students to use an NMR machine, rather than having a technician show them. This allows the students to understand how the machine works.
The most expensive piece of equipment on campus by far (almost double the price of the Chemistry Department’s NMR machine), is used by the Automotive Technology Department. This is their Caterpillar motor grader tractor, valued at almost half a million dollars. The department has a few other high-priced pieces, such as its $90,000 Cadillac XLR or its dynamometers, valued at $50,000 a piece, but the Caterpillar tractor outsteps anything else they have, as well as any other single piece of equipment belonging to any other department on campus.

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