$68 million commitment from 2023 budget launches construction project to help grow state's STEM workforce
Gov. Kathy Hochul recently announced the launch of a $102 million project that will create a new building housing the University at Buffalo School of Engineering and Applied Sciences. Funding for the project includes a $68 million commitment from the fiscal year 2023 state budget. The new building will house UB's School of Engineering and Applied Sciences and allow the university to meet increased enrollment demand while also fostering the growth of the state's STEM workforce.
"As one of SUNY's flagship universities, we are investing in the University at Buffalo to make it a world-class research institution to create an ecosystem of technology and advancement," Hochul said. "These investments are key to driving economic revenue by attracting companies to New York's emerging advanced research centers, fostering the growth of jobs in STEM, and strengthening communities for decades to come."
In the past 10 years alone, undergraduate student enrollment at the school has increased by 60%, and graduate student enrollment has grown by 110%. Last fall, the school enrolled a record 7,401 students.
The engineering building will be located on the university's North Campus in Amherst. Hochul’s team said, “It will further solidify UB's place among the nation's premier public research universities. The building will also help UB increase and diversify the state's STEM workforce, and it will drive economic development through scholarly research and innovation in artificial intelligence, quantum science, advanced materials and other transformative fields.”
The building will feature an "engineering commons," which will include collaborative spaces for student clubs, as well as maker space, student support services, and programs that support the formation of startup companies and other entrepreneurial activities.
A press release noted, “Through UB's planned expansion, the university will also be able to recruit and retain more students from underrepresented backgrounds, a priority to diversify classes of engineering students. UB regularly collaborates with community organizations to help prepare middle and high school students for STEM fields and prospective careers. Through programs like Tech Savvy, UB provides daylong STEM career conferences designed to attract girls to these fields and to inform families about STEM education and careers. Among other partnerships, UB works with National Grid and Westminster Community Charter School to offer STEM mentoring programs, including hands-on science experiments at UB together with in-classroom science lessons.”
SUNY Interim Chancellor Deborah F. Stanley said, "Once completed, the building will be home to one of the fastest-growing programs at UB, and serve as an innovation hub for our STEM students and the next generation of brilliant and pioneering individuals to follow.”
University at Buffalo President Satish K. Tripathi said, "A new engineering building has long been one of my foremost priorities, as it will have a transformative impact not only on our scholarly community, but the many communities we serve. By virtue of the technologies developed there – which will create growth and vitality in business and industry – and the students educated there – who will contribute their expertise to the highly skilled workforce – the economic benefits will extend to the region, state and well beyond. We are extremely grateful to Gov. Hochul and our Western New York delegation for their steadfast commitment to UB's mission of excellence."
Dean of the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences Kemper Lewis said, "Everything about the new building will be designed to enhance the student experience. It will be a central gathering point where all students are welcomed and supported in a space that encourages them to pursue their intellectual curiosity and tackle the grand challenges that we as a society face."
New York State Sen. Edward Rath III said, "When we learned about this proposed expansion through this year's budget session, the entire western delegation all lined up instantaneous to support UB and their School of Engineering and Applied Sciences. I am excited for UB and for our entire community. This is an investment that will provide an immediate return to our state for the training it will provide for our engineers and ensuring their success for the 21st century jobs ahead."
Assembly member Karen McMahon said, "When the University at Buffalo first proposed the new engineering building to increase their enrollment, I became a supporter of this project. UB will be able to expand to provide an excellent education for more promising engineers that reflects the diversity of Western New York and beyond. I am happy to see this come to fruition with the support of our governor, and my colleagues in the Legislature."
The $68 million in state funding is part of an investment by Hochul and state lawmakers in the SUNY system, which includes a $255 million increase in operating aid, and more than $660 million in additional capital for SUNY alone. At UB, such investments will help the university achieve its ambition to be among the nation's top 25 public research universities.
In this endeavor, the university aims to achieve greater societal impact by enhancing scholarly productivity and diversifying UB's overall research portfolio; providing students with innovative, research-grounded educational experiences; building upon UB's culture of equity and inclusion by further integrating inclusiveness into all aspects of the university; and deepening its engagement in the region by strengthening partnerships to contribute to positive health outcomes and economic vitality.