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‘A decade in the making’: UNLV opens new engineering building

Updated February 26, 2024 - 7:19 pm

UNLV celebrated the opening of its Advanced Engineering Building on Friday as the university works to help accommodate one of its fastest-growing programs.

An outdoor ceremony just outside the building’s main entrance drew more than 100 attendees. It was followed by building tours and demonstrations.

Classes will be held in the three-story, 52,000-square-foot building beginning this fall. Faculty researchers have already started moving in.

The dean of the College of Engineering, Rama Venkat, told the audience that opening the newest building on campus was a “momentous occasion.”

“As many of you may know, this project is a decade in the making,” he said.

During the difficult times in getting the project approved, funded and built, the question was not “if” but “when,” Venkat said.

Engineering is one of UNLV’s fastest-growing colleges. The new building, which cost $73.6 million, will allow for an expanding number of students and faculty members. Venkat said the goal is for 30 percent growth in undergraduate and graduate enrollment by 2030.

More than 60 percent of engineering graduates stay in Nevada.

The new building is on UNLV’s main campus between the Thomas T. Beam Engineering Complex and Artemus W. Ham Concert Hall.

It includes open-concept labs, a maker space, a flexible auditorium known as a “flexatorium” that can be used as a lecture hall or event space and an outdoor space for drones.

Venkat — who has worked at UNLV for 35 years, including 14 as engineering dean — said the new Advanced Engineering Building is designed to be student centered and collaboration focused.

Garrett Prentice, an undergraduate computer science student, said he’s grateful for the new building.

Having an adaptable space opens up more opportunities for innovation, he said.

The Nevada Legislature appropriated $36.8 million in funding — 50 percent of the total project cost — in 2021. UNLV contributed matching funds.

The legislature also appropriated $1.75 million in planning money in 2017.

The Advanced Engineering Building is the first new building on UNLV’s main campus in about six years since Hospitality Hall opened in 2018. The university opened its Medical Education Building at the Shadow Lane campus in 2022.

A commitment to innovation

UNLV president Keith Whitfield said that the building’s opening was an important day in the life and history of the university.

The impact of the new building is not just to house a 30 percent enrollment increase, but to provide opportunities, access and success for students, he said.

Whitfield also pointed to cross-disciplinary collaborations, noting that students are learning how to work with others — a skill that’s in demand.

U.S. Rep. Susie Lee said that UNLV will help lead innovation and that many high-demand jobs are tied to engineering.

Nevada Board of Regents Chair Amy Carvalho, a UNLV alumnus, said the building symbolizes a commitment to innovation.

It also holds immense potential to shape the trajectory of the state’s workforce and economy, she said, and will serve as a hub for cutting-edge research that addresses real-world challenges.

Patty Charlton, interim chancellor of the Nevada System of Higher Education — who is also a UNLV alumnus — said she was filled with “a profound sense of gratitude and pride” during the building’s grand opening.

The state-of-the-art facility will provide students with unparalleled access to cutting-edge resources and technologies, she said.

There will also be partnerships with the Clark County School District and summer programs for youth, Charlton said.

Contact Julie Wootton-Greener at jgreener@reviewjournal.com. Follow @julieswootton on X.

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