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June 9, 2017

A rendering of University of Texas at San Antonio's new science and engineering building, which should open by 2020. Courtesy of Alamo Architects and Treanor HL

By Silvia Foster-Frau, San Antonio Express-News

The University of Texas at San Antonio's most expensive construction project - ever - was an inevitable next step after its new chemical engineering program was approved to start this fall, said JoAnn Browning, UTSA's dean of engineering.

The university will break ground today for its Science and Engineering Research Building, which is expected to cost $95 million and be up and running by 2020.

The four-story, 153,000-square-foot facility will dedicate 17,000 square feet to a "makerspace," a flexible environment for students to design, analyze, build and test engineering products. And it will have a distillation column that's two stories tall, courtesy of the Klesse Foundation's $1 million donation to the engineering program earlier this year.

"It's a game-changer for engineering," Browning said. "The makerspaces and chemical engineering spaces just do not exist right now. This is a new educational opportunity for the engineering students we are graduating."

The building will largely be funded by a tuition revenue bond approved by state lawmakers in 2015. Browning said the state was supportive of its construction because of the high nationwide demand for an engineering workforce.

Due to its infancy, the chemical engineering program only has 40 to 50 slots available for the fall, though by February, almost 100 students already had applied.

Browning said the program now completes UTSA's offerings of all four main branches of engineering - mechanical, civil, electrical and now chemical.


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