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March 20, 2018

UMaine receives $10M gift toward new engineering/design center

Courtesy / University of Maine
Courtesy / University of Maine
An aerial view showing the University of Maine's engineering district. University of Maine President Susan Hunter says the $80 million engineering education and design center building proposed for the campus — which received a $10 million anonymous gift, the largest in the school's history — help meet student demand and Maine's need for engineers.

The University of Maine received an anonymous gift of $10 million from the family of an engineering graduate to be used for an $80 million engineering education and design center on the Orono campus.

It's the single largest capital gift in the school's history, bringing UMaine's Vision for Tomorrow campaign to over $148 million of the $200 million goal, University of Maine Foundation President Jeffery N. Mills said in a news release.

UMaine's College of Engineering has seen 70% growth in undergraduate enrollment since 2001.

"The Engineering Education and Design Center will help the College of Engineering expand its capacity to help meet student demand and Maine's need for engineers," said UMaine President Susan J. Hunter.

The Maine Legislature and Gov. Paul LePage's administration have also invested $50 million toward the construction of the facility, Hunter said.

In December 2017, the team of WBRC Architects Engineers, based in Bangor, and Ellenzweig of Boston was selected to design the new facility, expected to cost up to $80 million.

On March 5, 2018, the University of Maine System Board of Trustees approved acceptance of the $10 million gift, which includes a naming option.

Approval by the UMS Board of Trustees of the full design and cost estimate of the facility is planned by fall 2019, with groundbreaking anticipated in spring 2020 and completion by fall 2022.

UMaine has up to a 99% placement rate for engineering graduates in careers or graduate school, according to the release. The demand for engineers is illustrated by the 1,450 job postings for engineers in Maine from June 1, 2015, to May 31, 2016.

The center's new laboratories and classrooms will focus on team-based, hands-on experience to prepare graduates for engineering careers. The additional space will support modern, interdisciplinary approaches to teaching, and room for groups to work on senior capstone projects.

Hunter has made the facility her highest capital priority for UMaine's Vision for Tomorrow Campaign. Members of the College of Engineering Dean's Advisory Board, alumni, friends and corporate donors have collectively contributed an additional $1 million in gifts and pledges toward the construction of the facility to date.

Up to $19 million remains to be raised toward the center's construction.

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