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Work to Begin On New $62M Engineering Building at UA in Huntsville Campus

Mon April 24, 2023 - Southeast Edition
University of Alabama in Huntsville & Al.com


University of Alabama System Board of Trustees, UAH Foundation, Representatives of local and state governments, members of the military, members of the family of Raymond B. Jones, community leaders and UAH faculty, staff and students were on The University of Alabama Huntsville campus April 14, 2023, to break ground for the new Raymond B. Jones Engineering Building. (Michael Mercier | UAH photo)
University of Alabama System Board of Trustees, UAH Foundation, Representatives of local and state governments, members of the military, members of the family of Raymond B. Jones, community leaders and UAH faculty, staff and students were on The University of Alabama Huntsville campus April 14, 2023, to break ground for the new Raymond B. Jones Engineering Building. (Michael Mercier | UAH photo)

The University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH) kicked off construction of its new 80,000-sq.-ft. College of Engineering facility with a groundbreaking ceremony April 14 attended by college officials, representatives of local and state governments, members of the military, community leaders and UAH faculty, staff and students.

Also on hand for the event were members of the family of the late Raymond B. Jones, for whom the new engineering school will be named. Jones was a long-time business and community leader in Huntsville and past chair of the UAH Foundation.

In a news release, the school noted that the facility will provide cutting-edge resources to support the largest college at UAH, making up more than 2,850 students, as well as 90 faculty and staff.

Both Huntsville and north Alabama are in the fastest-growing region of the state and as a high-tech hub, have a continual need for a highly educated STEM labor force, the university added.

To help equip the region for these types of skilled personnel, UAH noted that the Jones College of Engineering "will feature modernized, world-class research and teaching facilities that will ensure UAH continues to meet the state's workforce needs through recruitment and retention of the most talented faculty and students, directly impacting the prosperity of the region."

"The University of Alabama System Board of Trustees, Chancellor Finis St. John and the [rest of the] leadership understand the significance of a modern facility and what this means to UAH's future growth, and I want to thank them for their leadership and guidance," said UAH President Charles L. Karr.

"In an effort championed by [state] Sen. Tom Butler, Gov. Kay Ivey and the Alabama State Legislature, [funds were appropriated] to make this needed building a reality, and we will forever be indebted for their commitment to higher education here in Huntsville, especially in the fields of engineering and science."

New Project Largest of UAH's Recent Building Efforts

The construction project is one of the most significant in the university's history and comes on the heels of what the school described as an "historic" appropriation of $18 million by the state legislature for the building.

According to Al.com, recent major construction projects at UAH have been the renovation and expansion of Morton Hall, a new student services center, an activities center and several residence halls.

The first phase of the UAH College of Engineering project received Stage II approval from The University of Alabama System Board of Trustees in April 2022. The project is estimated to cost $62.38M and includes plans for new construction that will replace the Wernher von Braun Research Hall, a building constructed in 1964. The new facility will be located west of the existing Engineering Building, adjacent to the campus lake along John Wright Drive.

"This new building will serve as a centerpiece for UAH, enabling us to recruit the very best and brightest students from all 67 counties in our state, from states across the nation, and beyond," said Shankar Mahalingam, dean of the UAH College of Engineering. "It will enable us to graduate engineers with B.S., M.S.E. and Ph.D. degrees who will contribute to filling the rapidly growing workforce needs of our region and our state."

Engineering School Deserving of Jones Name

UAH is classified as R1 — "very high research activity" status — among doctoral-granting universities by the Carnegie Classification of Institutes of Higher Education. Five of the university's research programs currently rank among the top 20 federally funded programs in the United States.

"UAH is known for our talented faculty and students who go on to be some of the brightest leaders in the national security, space exploration, healthcare, arts and business sectors," Karr explained. "The Huntsville community is known for our remarkable STEM labor force, and the Jones Engineering Building will enhance our students' experience."

Raymond B. Jones was born in Knoxville, Tenn., in 1935. His father, Carl T. Jones, was an engineer who moved his family to Jones Valley in Madison County, Ala., where G.W. Jones & Sons Consulting Engineers had been founded by his grandfather. Raymond Jones became president of G.W. Jones upon the death of his father in 1967, and as CEO oversaw numerous engineering design and municipal projects before his passing in July 2022.

For his business and civic leadership, Jones was awarded the Distinguished Service Award from the Huntsville Madison County Chamber of Commerce. He received an honorary doctorate from UAH in recognition of his tireless support of the university.




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