PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Portland State University is in the midst of renovating an aging science building into a state-of-the-art facility for STEM.

The Vernier Science Center will be home to learning and research space, including a dedicated space for indigenous STEM education.

PSU is trying to be more engaging with indigenous students in its STEM department.

“PSU, I think, is a great place for native and indigenous students to study,” said Joseph Bull, dean of the Maseeh College of Engineering and Computer Science at PSU. “We’ve been making a lot of conscious efforts to really center indigenous ways of knowing and indigenous cultures and what we do.”

“In STEM and engineering fields, in the types of problems that we tackle to get to the best solutions we need to have diverse teams,” adds Dean Bull. “And so doing things the same way we’ve always done them isn’t going to get us to that. There’s a huge amount of value in the indigenous knowledge and approach to things. So in order to meet the workforce demands in Oregon, we need to have a more diverse workforce in order to get the best solutions. We need to involve folks. And if you think of indigenous knowledge around wildfires, fisheries management, you know, all kinds of things like that. There’s a wealth of knowledge there and to co-create new solutions with indigenous folks is really important.”

“In my college, we’re kicking off this year what we’re calling a Futures program. That is a program that’s focused on student success and belonging and inclusion,” notes Dean Bull. “It’s not enough to have diverse students, that they have to be successful. We have to make sure they feel welcome.”

Watch the full interview in the video above.