ADA, Okla. (KTEN) — Local and state officials gathered in Ada Tuesday for a groundbreaking ceremony at East Central University that will eventually make room for an additional 200 nursing students.

Dirt was turned for a new STEM Center and School of Nursing building, which are some of the largest degree programs on campus.

The new facility will offer a simulation center and 25 hands-on learning labs.

ECU said this expansion is expected to generate a 400 percent increase in nursing graduates, while addressing the local need for support in health care careers.

"This new building for STEM and School of Nursing is replacing a building that is 100 years old, so there is a lot of excitement on campus," said ECU President Wendell Godwin. "This is a collaborative project with a number of stakeholders — the Chickasaw Nation, the City of Ada, our local Valley View Foundations and private state foundations."

Godwin said the new facility should be ready for students by the 2026 fall semester.