SHSU to Break Ground on New Center

The Huntsville Item discusses the new headquarters of the Department of Agricultural Sciences and Engineering Technology and the groundbreaking ceremony on the site location of the new Fred Pirkle Engineering Technology Center, at the corner of Bowers Boulevard and Sam Houston Avenue on Friday (Jun. 12)  at 1:30 p.m.

The new building will feature four levels which will be filled with state-of-the-art technology that is specialized for each program and major. The “Edison Innovation Level” will include collaboration areas, an electronics and robotics lab, clean manufacturing and wet lab, machine and woodworking shops and an outside, covered work area.

The “Fred Pirkle Level” will feature an innovative, pre-function lobby, multi-purpose classrooms, an alternative energy and sustainability lab, the Fred Pirkle Honorific Museum, computer laboratories and an outdoor academic courtyard.

The “Thomas Jefferson Level” will include an animal science physiology labs, animal science research lab, agricultural science student-teacher classroom, agricultural business computer lab and seminar room, horticulture science and crop lab, a student lounge and adjunct faculty offices.

The “Sam Houston Level” will house administrative and faculty offices, as well as a seminar room and graduate student and teaching assistant cubicles.

“It’s remarkable, it’s an unbelievable feeling,” Stanley Kelley, department chair said. “It’s been about a two-year process, so to be able to actually break the ground and have the ceremonial groundbreaking is really, to me, bringing all of this to fruition and making a dream finally start coming through. We have gone from just a concept to a whole book of what everything will look like.  ...   It’s a very specialized academic building. It’s going to be state-of-the-art in terms of the learning environments that’s going to be in the facility let alone the specialized equipment that will be in there.  Servicing the engineering technology portion of our department we will have a sustainable energy laboratory along with a sustainable energy patio, so we can do solar and wind energy demonstrations along with the academics that go with it. We’ll have the innovations lab, which students will be able to take a conceptual idea, and through group efforts and teamwork, be able to build and to engineer a final product. In terms of the agricultural portion, we’ll have a wildlife and physiology laboratories and the association research labs to go with that. We’ll have a floral design lab and floral display area, a very unique agricultural business and agricultural communication classroom where students will be learning in pods in group learning effort.”

The new facility was made possible by a generous donation from SHSU alumni Fred Pirkle, who donated $10 million for the new building, $10 million for student scholarships and $5 million for faculty enrichment, for a combined total of $25 million.

Currently, the department is housed in the Thomason Building, where it has remained for the last few years. Kelley says once they move into the new building, the Thomason Building will then be converted into support offices for the university.

Construction on the new facility will begin sometime next week and is scheduled for completion in the fall of 2016. The first classes to be held in the building will take place during the 2017 Spring semester.

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