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UMES breaks ground on STEM building

  • Wednesday, September 11, 2013

    Groundbreaking 9-11-13

    Dr. Juliette Bell pauses for a moment of silence during groundbreaking ceremonies on 9-11

    PRINCESS ANNE, MD - (Sept. 11, 2013) - The east side of the University of Maryland Eastern Shore campus is about to be transformed by construction of a new classroom building.

    University and civic leaders were joined at a ceremonial groundbreaking today  by architects and the contractors about to start building a 166,000 square-foot structure for aviation science, computer science and engineering instruction.

    "In the new building that will rise behind me," President Juliette B. Bell said, "future airline pilots, air traffic controllers, engineers, mathematicians, computer scientists and others will be trained as the next generation of leaders in their fields."

    When completed in 24 months, the new building will be university's largest. That distinction currently is held by the Student Services Center with 155,000 square feet.

    "I can't wait to move into our new building," said Kayla Press, a mathematics education major.

    To make room for the three-story engineering building, a structure used for poultry science instruction off College Backbone Road will be demolished.

    Today's ceremony under a cloudless sky was held on the 12th anniversary of the horrific suicide attacks mounted by Islamic terrorists, which Bell noted in her remarks.

    "As we remember the lives of those we lost, we also celebrate the heroism of the first responders and the lives that gained new meaning and found new purpose that day to make our nation stronger," Bell said.

    Maryland's legislature earlier this year approved an allocation of $22.7 million from the sale of revenue bonds to be the first installment toward the $91.5 million project. It will be the first classroom building built on the UMES campus since 2003.

    Tanner Hall, an early 1960s-era building where aviation science currently is headquartered, has 3,800 "net assignable square feet" of space on one floor. Engineering and computer science students and faculty currently occupy the two-story Kiah Hall, a building that opened in 1953 as a public secondary school.

    William Wrobel, director of NASA's Wallops Flight Facility, said the space agency has big plans for expanding its programs in Virginia and is excited about UMES' new building and the engineering program's recent accreditation.

    "We need your engineering students to be part of that exciting future," Wrobel said.

    Over the past 10 years, the university built its food science classroom building and a physical plant on the eastern edge of the campus, which for generations was home to field research and hands-on agriculture training.

    A 17-acre field adjacent to the campus water tower became the site two years ago for 7,800 solar-energy collection panels that help UMES reduce its electric bills. The new classroom building will be fitted with an eco-friendly geo-thermal heating and cooling system.

    In addition to classrooms, labs and faculty offices, the new building will feature conference rooms, a library, media production facilities, a lounge and central computing services. The dean of graduate studies and the dean of business and technology school also will have offices there.

    “We expect this building will be the first of many opportunities to highlight what is best about the people and programs at the University of Maryland Eastern Shore,” Bell said.

    Goundbreaking group 9-11-13

    A groundbreaking ceremony signals the start of construction on UMES' new $91.5 million classroom building.

      Photo by Jim Glovier