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U of Rhode Island Kicks Off Construction for $125 Million Engineering Complex

Image Credit: URI.

The University of Rhode Island (URI) Monday began construction for a $125 million engineering complex conceived with collaboration, innovation and flexible learning models in mind.

The 190,000-square-foot facility is “designed to foster interdisciplinary collaboration and innovation” and will “evolve to meet the technology-driven changes in all segments of engineering,” according to the URI announcement. It will house seven out of the university’s eight engineering programs: biomedical, chemical, civil, computer, electrical, industrial and systems, and mechanical. It will be state-of-the-art in many ways, with multiple active-learning classrooms, vibration-proof laboratories, computer labs, electronic student centers and the university’s first student shop.

Construction will be completed in summer 2019. The engineering complex is the largest construction project in the university's history. Several historic buildings located on the Quadrangle — Crawford Hall, Gilbreth Hall, Kelly Hall, Kelly Hall Annex and Wales Hall, all of which opened in the late 1950s and early 1960s — have been demolished to make way for the complex. The older buildings “did not provide the open and flexible teaching, learning and research spaces necessary to adequately prepare engineering students and fully serve faculty members,” the announcement explained.

Funding for the facility comes from public and private investments. Rhode Island voters in 2014 approved a bond issue for the complex and last fall approved an additional $25.5 million for the project’s second phase “to upgrade and expand Bliss Hall,” which is located in the URI Quadrangle. Private gift pledges currently total $7 million of the university’s $20 million goal, including $2 million from Toray Plastics and $1 million from FM Global.

From left to right: Kalvin Cho, URI College of Engineering student; Michael Brandmeier, president and chief executive officer of Toray Plastics (America); David Dooley, URI president; Gina Raimondo, governor of Rhode Island; and Raymond Wright, College of Engineering dean. Image: Nora Lewis for URI Today.

At the April 24 groundbreaking event, Gov. Gina Raimondo, URI President David Dooley and College of Engineering Dean Raymond Wright were in attendance, along with business and labor leaders.

“By investing in URI and in projects like this one, we’re building the workforce of the future — one that meets the needs of our modern businesses. We’ve come so far already. This is the next step,” Raimondo said in the statement.

“This new facility will stimulate collaborative, multidisciplinary learning and research. It will lead to discoveries that we cannot even imagine today,” Dooley said.

A virtual tour and additional information about the engineering complex is available on the URI site.

About the Author

Sri Ravipati is Web producer for THE Journal and Campus Technology. She can be reached at [email protected].

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