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Updated: April 29, 2020

UMaine holds 'virtual groundbreaking' for $78M engineering and design center

Courtesy / WBRC Architects Engineers The new $78 million engineering education and design center building at the University of Maine, shown here in a rendering, is on track toward completion in 2022.

Construction of a $78 million, 105,000-square-foot facility at the University of Maine’s Orono campus will begin in May, with workers following appropriate COVID-19 health guidelines.

In a sign of the times, UMaine on Tuesday held a virtual groundbreaking for the planned Ferland Engineering Education and Design Center. 

The previously planned in-person event is available online. Click here to view.

The project is expected to be completed in spring 2022. The center will house the biomedical engineering program and department of mechanical engineering, as well as teaching laboratories for the mechanical engineering technology program. It also will provide space for all UMaine engineering majors to complete their senior capstone projects and collaborative learning classrooms that will serve the entire campus.

The center has been in the planning and fundraising stages since 2013.

The building's $10 million naming gift, the largest single gift in UMaine history, came from Skowhegan natives E. James “Jim” Ferland, a 1964 graduate, and Eileen P. Ferland.

WBRC Architects Engineers, based in Bangor, and Ellenzweig of Boston designed the Ferland Engineering Education and Design Center. Consigli Construction, of Milford, Mass., and Portland, is leading its construction.

Courtesy / WBRC Architects Engineers
The interior features classrooms and teaching laboratories.

A record $25 million in private support was raised from more than 500 alumni, friends, foundations and corporate donors for the project, which was a priority of UMaine’s $200 million Vision for Tomorrow comprehensive campaign, led by the University of Maine Foundation. Approval of $50 million in public support from the state Legislature in 2017 helped catalyze the campaign. 

In addition to the Ferlands' gift, major naming gifts to the project came from the Abagadasset Foundation, Gustavus and Louise Pfeiffer Research Foundation, Harold Alfond Foundation, Packaging Corporation of America and Pratt & Whitney. 

“This facility is key to advancing the College of Engineering, the university and the state,” said UMaine President Joan Ferrini-Mundy. “Continuing to increase enrollment in engineering to produce the talent needed by industry is critical to Maine’s economy. The project itself is a jobs creator and includes UMaine engineering alumni returning to their alma mater to contribute to its design and construction. This facility ushers in an important new chapter in our future.”

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