MURRAY, Ky. (Oct. 31, 2017) — Special guests from the region and community gathered at Murray State University Oct. 27 for an open house and dedication ceremony commemorating the University’s new Engineering and Physics Building.
The new structure is the final component of Murray State’s Gene Wells Ray Science Campus, which was first conceptualized 18 years ago, and joins biology and chemistry facilities that also operate within the Jesse D. Jones College of Science, Engineering and Technology at Murray State.
“The building that we’re dedicating today is a beautiful facility — one that represents the culmination of two decades of planning and a shared vision for a modern science and engineering complex that will serve the students of west Kentucky for generations,” said Dr. Steve Cobb, dean of the Jesse D. Jones College of Science, Engineering and Technology.
The 81,000-square-foot building is home to the University’s Institute of Engineering and first opened to students, faculty and staff in August 2017. The building includes modern classrooms and conference rooms in addition to featuring state-of-the-art equipment and facilities, such as a high bay engineering systems laboratory, a rapid prototyping center and various engineering and physics laboratories. Additionally, the Gary W. Boggess Science Resource Center provides students with computer labs, presentation studios, interview rooms and instructional media support areas.
“Engineering education is much more project oriented now than it was a decade ago,” said Dr. Danny Claiborne, chair of the Institute of Engineering. “Rather than just having classrooms to operate out of, you need laboratory spaces where groups can collaborate — where you can design, build, test and characterize whatever your innovative technology might be.”
The building will meet the needs of more than 550 students, annually, in the University’s engineering, engineering technology, physics, mechanical design and telecommunications systems management programs. Graduates of the aforementioned programs will ultimately leave the University with the training to enter a rapidly changing environment where scientific and engineering disciplines often overlap.
Murray State students using the Engineering and Physics Building will also have the opportunity to gain hands-on experience in their respective fields. Areas for study include but are not limited to designing 3D models with laser cutting and robotic arm capabilities; studying robotics, solar power, artificial intelligence, communication systems and manufacturing systems; using wind and water tunnels for engineering analysis; and more.
“It’s also important to note that these facilities will not be restricted just to students in the Jesse D. Jones College of Science, Engineering and Technology but rather shared across academic disciplines,” said Dr. Bob Davies, president of Murray State. “This multidisciplinary collaboration will encourage more students to become involved with our STEM-H offerings and benefit from the applied learning that will take place throughout this facility.”
During the dedication and open house, hosted in conjunction with Homecoming 2017 festivities, several speakers addressed those in attendance about the impact of engineering education both in the region and around the world. Speakers included Jenean Hampton, lieutenant governor of Kentucky; Susan Guess, vice chair of the Murray State University Board of Regents; Bob Davies, president of Murray State University; Steve Cobb, dean of the Jesse D. Jones College of Science, Engineering and Technology; Danny Claiborne, chair of the Institute of Engineering; and Jesse D. Jones, distinguished alumnus and generous supporter of the University.
“It is an honor to be here today as lieutenant governor, but I’m really excited to be here as someone who holds an engineering degree,” said Jenean Hampton, lieutenant governor of Kentucky, who earned her undergraduate degree in industrial engineering before serving in the U.S. Air Force. “I share your excitement here today with this facility — this is world class.”
The building, which cost $35 million to construct, was financed through $30 million in state funding and $5 million in private support. Additionally, the support of countless alumni and friends of the University made construction of the building possible, including corporate partners from US Didactic Inc., Pella Corporation, Dell EMC, Briggs & Stratton, IWIS Engine Systems and Kayser Automotive Systems.