Laramie, Wyoming – The University of Wyoming will celebrate the grand opening of the new $105 million Engineering Education and Research Building (EERB) at 11:30 a.m. Friday, Sept. 13, with a ribbon-cutting ceremony and tour of the new facility. The free public event will be held inside the EERB, located at 1114 E. Bradley St., east of the Michael B. Enzi STEM Facility.
The EERB is one of the most advanced and collaborative engineering learning facilities in the nation. The building, a key part of the Tier-1 Engineering Initiative, was made possible by generous private donations and a significant investment by the Wyoming Legislature. The initiative is designed to promote engineering education, workforce training and research relevant to the economic interest of Wyoming.
Speakers at the event will be former Gov. Dave Freudenthal; Tom Botts, co-chair of the Wyoming Governor’s Energy, Engineering, STEM Integration Task Force; UW Board of Trustees Chairman David True; UW Acting President Neil Theobald; and College of Engineering and Applied Science (CEAS) Dean Michael Pishko.
“The building’s impact stretches so far beyond Laramie and the university,” True says. “It’s a state facility and will do wonders for Wyoming.”
The four-story EERB features an expanded Student Innovation Center (makerspace) that will facilitate faculty research and student education, and also provide the public opportunities for tours and hands-on learning experiences. The new building will focus on interdisciplinary interactions with other colleges, including collaboration with the College of Arts and Sciences’ Department of Visual and Literary Arts in the two-story Center for Design Thinking active-learning lab.
“This structure, which provides 110,000 new square feet for engineering research and student innovation, will more than repay the state over its lifetime by facilitating just the sort of interdisciplinary collaboration and interaction that provides active learning for our students and enhanced engagement with our industry and P-14 partners,” Theobald says. “I would like to thank the Wyoming Legislature for its generous support of the Engineering Education and Research Building.”
Additionally, the facility houses several reconfigurable research laboratories, including the upgraded Drilling and Completions Simulator made possible, in part, by a gift of equipment from Drilling Systems Inc., where students can simulate actual land and offshore oil and gas exploration. Tawfik Elshehabi, CEAS petroleum engineering associate lecturer, spent the summer conducting tours of the drilling center and opening the simulator for public viewing.
“We conducted tours for more than 500 people throughout the summer, ranging from K-12 students from around Wyoming, prospective students and their families, and graduate students and faculty members from other institutions,” Elshehabi says. “All of them said they wish they had more time to spend in this amazing facility.”
Another key accomplishment of the EERB is helping fulfill UW’s mission of providing accessible and affordable higher education. In 2018, the CEAS programs boasted an average 88 percent job placement rate, a dramatic increase from 49 percent just five years before the Engineering Initiative.
Alongside the Energy Innovation Center, High Bay Research Facility and Michael B. Enzi STEM Facility, UW’s engineering programs and facilities rival larger universities that have dominated the engineering industry for years.
The EERB took over two years to construct and is one of the most ambitious construction projects in the university’s history. Pishko compliments the parties involved for helping ensure the building was completed within original budget parameters.
“We were very conscious of the enormous investment the state Legislature and people of Wyoming have made,” Pishko says. “This building was on budget, and we’re very proud of the fact we can demonstrate the significance of that responsibility to the stakeholders involved in the project.”
The building’s features include:
— Upgraded Drilling and Completions Simulator.
— Robotics Artificial Intelligence Learning Laboratory.
— Upgraded driving, trucking and traffic management simulators.
— Produced water management laboratory.
— Advanced hydrocarbons laboratory with a focus on enhanced oil recovery research.
— Advanced combustion laboratory.
— Augmented/virtual reality laboratory.
— Materials laboratory with an emphasis on composite materials.
— Bioengineering laboratory with a focus on materials and collaborations with the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources.
— Center for Design Thinking: teaching of design in collaboration with the Department of Visual and Literary Arts, and funded by the Institute of Innovation and Entrepreneurship.
— Interdisciplinary fluids laboratory, a shared teaching facility among the departments of civil, mechanical, chemical and petroleum engineering.
— Expanded Student Innovation Center, with advanced 3D printing and modeling technology.
For questions from the media, call Chad Baldwin, UW associate vice president for communications and marketing, at (307) 766-2929 or email [email protected].