Release Date: April 24, 2009
BUFFALO, N.Y. -- The University at Buffalo reached a major milestone in its UB 2020 strategic plan today, breaking ground for a new $61 million state-of-the-art classroom and laboratory building for the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences on the UB North (Amherst) Campus.
Designed by renowned architects Perkins + Will, the 130,000-square-foot structure will increase UB Engineering's facility space by nearly one-third, accommodating significant new growth in the engineering school's student enrollments, faculty hires and research expenditures.
Funding for the building was secured through a "public-private partnership" between New York State and private donors. The state provided $49.6 million from previous budget cycles to the project, and UB Engineering is raising additional funds from private donors.
"I want to thank our leaders in state government and our generous donors for their leadership and foresight in supporting our vision for the university, its engineering school and the community at large," said UB President John B. Simpson. "This new building will boast facilities not previously available to UB researchers, students or industry partners. Researchers within this building will produce technological advances and engineering breakthroughs that will generate new opportunities for local companies, spin off new businesses and help create high-paying, high-skilled jobs critical to our region."
UB 2020 is the university's strategic plan for achieving academic excellence through focused research, growth, and transformation of learning spaces and infrastructure on its three campuses.The new engineering building will be home to the Department of Computer Science and Engineering and the Department of Electrical Engineering, modernizing their programs and facilities. Both departments play key roles in advancement of two UB research strengths identified by the UB 2020 plan: information and computing technology, and integrated nanostructured systems.
UB researchers working in these areas will focus on fundamental and applied technologies such as creation of innovative sources of power for electric vehicles and devices that store energy produced by such alternative energy sources as solar and wind. They will collaborate with industry partners to create new devices to personalize the delivery of medicine or protect society from bioterrorism.
"This major step forward for UB's School of Engineering and Applied Sciences is testimony to the dramatic growth in the productivity of our faculty and the significant increases we are seeing in the numbers of superior students who want to study engineering and computer science at UB," said Harvey G. Stenger Jr., Ph.D., dean of the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences.
"Because we work with nearly 200 Western New York companies each year and a significant number of our graduates embark on engineering careers at companies in our community or elsewhere in the state, the quality of our students has a direct impact on the local and regional workforce and economy," said Stenger.
The building is expected to be completed in 2011. Its construction is a major project for "Building UB," the university's comprehensive physical plan -- a key component of UB 2020. This spring and summer, UB is launching $362 million in construction projects on the three campuses, as part of Building UB.
Construction of the engineering building is expected to require approximately 100 skilled-trades jobs. By 2012, more than 2,900 new construction jobs will be created as the result of Building UB, according to estimates developed by the university. UB's growth is projected to add nearly $1 billion a year to the local economy and has the potential to create 10,000 new jobs by 2025.
Assemblyman Robin Schimminger said the groundbreaking marked a "good day for our shared vision of a resurgent Western New York and was another example of the "state's investment in UB and its plan for the future, UB 2020."
"We look forward to watching the new state-of-the-art School of Engineering and Applied Sciences building rise on campus and to seeing its benefits expand into the wider community in the form of new economic and employment opportunities," he added. "Ultimately the reach of the research and training to be conducted here, and the advances in knowledge and technology that are gained, will extend worldwide."
Senator Dale M. Volker said the state's "critical investment in the new engineering building will make a profound impact in modernizing its programs and will produce advanced research that will bring about new economic development opportunities and diversify our region's economy.
"This is a tremendous day for the University at Buffalo, the Western New York region and for the State of New York," he added.
The engineering building will feature numerous sustainable building strategies, allowing it to achieve Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) gold certification as determined by the U.S. Green Building Council.
The building will include a 5,000-square-foot "clean room," which will allow UB students and researchers in electrical engineering to create innovations such as powerful solar cells, ultra-sensitive biosensors and disease-curing nanoparticles in a germ-free environment. The building also will feature a "cybertorium" or "smart" auditorium, outfitted with the most sophisticated communications devices and smart technologies. Flexible research labs, classrooms and meeting areas will foster interdisciplinary work.
The University at Buffalo is a premier research-intensive public university, a flagship institution in the State University of New York system and its largest and most comprehensive campus. UB's more than 28,000 students pursue their academic interests through more than 300 undergraduate, graduate and professional degree programs. Founded in 1846, the University at Buffalo is a member of the Association of American Universities.