UHV break ground on STEM building construction site

UHV leaders broke ground Friday morning to usher in the beginning of construction on their brand new Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics building.

Students, Faculty and Community leaders were in attendance to mark the occasion. The STEM building will feature a one hundred and twenty seat classroom, multiple education labs and more when completed. President Bob Glenn says this day marks a new era of growth for the university.

“Well, I mean, this is a very dynamic time in the history of the institution. It’s really exciting to be here. Just, so many opportunities. Some that we’ve discovered and some that are gonna discover us in the very near future.”

The STEM building will cost twenty eight million to construct and is slated for completion by fall 2020.

Below is the official press release from UHV:

Community and University of Houston-Victoria leaders broke ground Friday with golden ceremonial shovels to signify the beginning of construction on the university’s new 58,464-square-foot Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics building.

“This new STEM building will vastly improve our ability to offer additional science programs and allow our students ready employment in the Coastal Bend,” UHV President Bob Glenn said. “We are fortunate to have strong industries in this region with a need for scientists and engineers. We want to provide these exceptional companies with the employees they need, which also will help ensure the prosperity of our region for years to come.”

UHV students, alumni, faculty and staff were joined by community leaders for the groundbreaking celebration. Also attending were members of UH System Facilities Planning & Construction and representatives from companies working on the building.

The new STEM building will be located on the south side of the UHV University Center, directly across from UHV University North, 3007 N. Ben Wilson St. Construction on the three-story building will begin this month and is slated for completion by fall 2020.

“This building is critical for us to continue the pathway to becoming a destination university,” said Wayne Beran, UHV vice president for administration and finance. “The building will attract many students interested in science and medical fields, and open up other courses of study in the future.”

A 120-seat classroom; computer science software and study rooms; and motion capture, robotics, gaming and computer science server labs will be located on the first floor, along with study spaces and areas for students to collaborate. In addition, an immersive 210-degree screen lab will be featured. The screen in this lab will display images that appear to surround the user, providing an interactive experience.

“The visually immersive display can support learning in game-like educational virtual reality,” said Yun Wan, a professor of computer information systems and chair of the Science, Technology and Mathematics Division in the UHV School of Arts & Sciences. “We will use this lab to conduct experiments and research related to gaming design, allowing students to comfortably test their designs in a virtual reality environment.”

The second floor will feature labs for biology, anatomy, physiology, microbiology and biochemistry for students pursuing health careers. Rooms for cellular and molecular biology, plant biology and ecology research also will be included, as well as rooms for microscopy and sterilization.

“We have an outstanding faculty, and this new building will be their home to showcase and share with our students and community their passion for the sciences,” said Jeffrey Di Leo, dean of the UHV School of Arts & Sciences. “We are excited that popular programs, including computer science and biology, now will have a dedicated floor. With these dedicated spaces, faculty and students will be able to configure teaching and research more effectively and conveniently.”

The third floor will feature additional science labs, including organic chemistry, chemistry and physics. The floor also will house a research room for biology; a chemistry prep room; several offices, workrooms and study rooms; and a classroom. In addition, an outdoor terrace will overlook the University Center and University North buildings.

The layout of the STEM building was designed to feature collaborative study and work areas, and state-of-the-art equipment that faculty and students can use, said Matt Alexander, UHV director of capital projects.

“We planned for spaces that would encourage students in different classes to work together, increase the look and feel of the university campus, and allow students to remain on the main part of the UHV campus rather than commuting back and forth between the buildings and Jaguar Village,” Alexander said.

The STEM building will cost $28 million to construct. The general contractor for the project is BE&K Building Group of Houston, and the architect is SmithGroup, based out of Dallas.

A $1.5 million gift from the M.G. and Lillie A. Johnson Foundation was announced by the university on Thursday and will help build-out and equip state-of-the-art anatomy and biology, and organic chemistry labs located in the new STEM building. The gift also will help build a kinesiology lab that will be housed in the former Town Plaza Mall that the university owns and is renovating. The STEM labs will provide students with advanced tools to learn about anatomy, physiology, biology, biochemistry, most of which are required areas of study for careers in medicine, physical therapy, occupational therapy and other health-related professions.

“This building represents growth for UHV and the region it serves, including increased employment opportunities for students,” Glenn said. “If this building doesn’t make people excited about the future of Victoria, I don’t know what will.”