In an effort to accommodate the increasing number of engineering graduates at its institution, University of Michigan-Dearborn will construct a new, $90 million engineering lab building.
The new building will cover about 108,000 square feet and will include new technology, modern research space, and teaching labs. The facility will also be used for industry research, and K-12 and community college outreach.
In place of the school’s existing Engineering Lab Building, which was constructed in 1959, the new structure will serve as the campus’ primary engineering teaching and research facility.
“This old facility not only has limits with capacity, but there are also issues with incorporating new technology,” says Tony England, dean of the university’s College of Engineering and Computer Science. “In a 1959 building, built with a 1950s understanding of engineering, modern engineering practices and technology either can’t be done or can only be done at an unreasonably high cost. We’ve been doing a good job with what we have and our students are doing well. But this change will push us—and our students—into the future.”
University officials say that the building construction project, which was approved by the U-M Board of Regents in September, is more cost and time efficient than renovation of the existing facility.
In 2015, the university commissioned Smith Group to determine if the existing Engineering Lab Building could be renovated or if it needed to be replaced. After a comprehensive study, it determined replacement of the building as the best option. In June, the Michigan Legislature approved a $30 million capital outlay to help fund the new engineering lab building at the University of Michigan-Dearborn.
The university is actively raising funds for the project, and there is no set timetable yet for construction. The next steps for the project will include preparing architectural designs, approving designs, and then construction bids.
UM-Dearborn’s engineering program has seen a 74 percent increase in enrollment since 2010, and is expected to double the number of College of Engineering and Computer Science graduates by 2020. Ninety-five percent of graduates find a job before graduation, with an average salary of $63,000.