A yellow construction vehicle is sitting on top of a pile of dirt as construction works look down at the construction site

Andrea Wilkinson/Nevada Sagebrush
Construction takes place on the William N. Pennington Engineering Building on Friday, Nov. 2. The building is an addition to 7 engineering buildings on campus and will have state of the art technology.

The University of Nevada, Reno, broke ground on the $91 million engineering building on Tuesday, Oct. 23. The William N. Pennington Engineering Building is expected to be 100,114-square-feet and have 40+ faculty offices by Fall 2020.

The building will feature a cleanroom, 150 graduate workstations, 40 laboratories and a large-scale computer lab. Associate Dean of Engineering Indira Chatterjee said the College of Engineering is the fastest growing college with approximately 2,900 students.

The new building will not only accommodate growing faculty and students but will allow professors and graduate students to conduct research task.

“There will be state of the art labs,”  Chatterjee said. “ It’s not an instructional type facility; it is more of a research facility, so our faculty will be able to use it, graduate students will be able to use it and for undergraduates, of course, if they are involved in research.”

Currently, the College of Engineering occupies 7 buildings on campus, which are unable to accommodate for modern research the college needs, according to Marketing and Communications specialist for the College of Engineering, Kirstin Swagman.

“It’s a really huge step forward for us in the college just in terms of our ability to continue to grow to continue to recruit faculty and for them to know they will have high tech space,” Swagman said.

Swagman added with the addition of a cleanroom, it will allow research projects to take place the college wants to conduct. Chatterjee also said the cleanroom will allow faculty and students to conduct sensitive type research.

A cleanroom is a contained space where particle contamination is reduced through a High Efficiency Particulate Air filter. Workers in the room are also able to control environmental parameters such as temperature, pressure and humidity, according to Clean Air Technology Inc.

According to Swagman, the building will not affect differential fees. Differential fees are an additional $85 per credit for 300 and 400 level classes in the College of Engineering. Fees are used to pay for software, need-based scholarships and hiring staff and lecturers.

Governor Brian Sandoval, on June 16, 2017, signed with the university to contribute $45.1 million to the project, which was presented in the 2017 Nevada Legislature in January 2017. Sandoval told Nevada Today it was much-needed funding to help professors and students conduct proper research.

Gov. Sandoval also told the Reno Gazette-Journal on Oct. 23, that by building the new building it would be a new foundation for Nevada’s economy to grow.

Denise Baclawski, Senior Director, Planning & Construction Services for Facility Services said the construction site is limited to where it is at and should not affect student pathways to and from classes. Baclawski added the building will meet all requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

The university is funding the project with help of the state, university funds, and private donors. The building will be on the East side of campus with access to Evans Avenue.

Andrew Mendez can be reached at andrewmendez@sagebrush.unr.edu and on Twitter @NevadaSagebrush.