On the heels of the Alabama State Legislature passing one of the most significant appropriations in UAH’s history, the university is poised to fulfill Huntsville’s STEM workforce needs
HUNTSVILLE, Ala., April 8, 2022 – The first phase of a new engineering building project at the University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH) has received conceptual approval from the University of Alabama System Board of Trustees. This initial approval authorizes UAH to formally proceed with planning the construction of an 80,000-square-foot, multistory academic and research facility that will accommodate the College of Engineering’s growth and greatly enhance the advanced research and development capabilities of UAH’s faculty, staff and students.
“Elevating UAH to reach its highest potential is a top priority of the University of Alabama System and the Board of Trustees,” said UA System Chancellor Finis St. John. “UAH’s transformation is well underway, thanks to the vision of the Board, the leadership of UAH interim president Dr. Chuck Karr and the resounding support from the Huntsville community and local leaders. We are especially grateful to the Alabama State Legislature for supporting this transformative project and passing one of the most significant appropriations in UAH’s history.”
Expanding and enhancing UAH’s engineering facility will advance the university’s flagship program, promote collaborative learning, and foster innovation in fast-growing technical areas that UAH currently supports, such as unmanned aerial systems, big data, hypersonics and artificial intelligence.
“As the preferred site for the U.S. Space Command and the home to Redstone Arsenal and Cummings Research Park, Huntsville is a STEM powerhouse with a critical need for talented professionals in the science, cyber and engineering fields,” said Sen. Tom Butler. “The continued growth of this knowledge-based economy requires a significant increase in STEM graduates. With the vast majority of UAH graduates staying in our state, expanding and enhancing the university’s engineering facility will directly fill our community’s workforce pipeline.”
The College of Engineering plays a pivotal role in driving economic development and supporting high-tech industry, space and defense needs. The powerful synergy between UAH, Redstone Arsenal and Cummings Research Park forms the hub of the southern technology corridor. With a rapidly expanding technological industry, Huntsville has one of the most technical workforces in the U.S. and one of the highest numbers of engineers per capita.
“Building on the remarkable momentum in Huntsville, it is critical for UAH to continue fulfilling the region’s educational, workforce and research needs,” said UAH interim president Dr. Chuck Karr. “A new engineering building will help us drive impactful research efforts and recruit and graduate exceptional students that meet the area’s growing high-tech workforce needs. I am grateful for and excited about the opportunity to provide this remarkable facility for our outstanding students, faculty, and staff.”
Phase I of the engineering building project includes plans for new construction that will replace 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.
“These plans to expand and enhance our engineering facilities can transform engineering education and research at UAH by enabling us to recruit the very best students, elevate our work in a collaborative environment, and contribute to the rapidly growing engineering workforce needs in our region,” said Dr. Shankar Mahalingam, dean of UAH’s College of Engineering. “Modernized, world-class research facilities will also enable us to recruit and retain the most talented faculty conducting research that directly impacts our region.”
The Phase I preliminary project budget of $59.3 million would be funded by a variety of sources, including state appropriated funds, gifts and reserve funds. The Alabama State Legislature voted to appropriate $18 million of state supplemental funds towards UAH’s engineering building project.
Research at UAH is a vibrant and expanding function and demonstrates the university’s valuable position in Alabama as a leading engineering and science research institution. UAH recently achieved the rank of “R1 – Very high research activity” status among doctoral-granting universities in the current update of the Carnegie Classification of Institutes of Higher Education, and six of UAH’s research programs rank among the top 25 federally funded programs in the U.S., according to the National Science Foundation (NSF) Higher Education Research and Development (HERD) Survey. Home to 17 research centers and institutes, UAH supplies a highly educated workforce to the State of Alabama, with 72% of its alumni residing in-state. Subject to approval from the UA System Board of Trustees, Phase II of the engineering building project would include plans to fully renovate the existing Engineering Building. All stages of this multi-phased project are subject to Board approval.
About The University of Alabama in Huntsville
Launched from America’s quest to conquer space, The University of Alabama in Huntsville is one of America’s premier doctoral-granting, research-intensive universities. Located in the second largest research park in the United States, UAH has robust capabilities in astrophysics, cybersecurity, data analytics, logistics and supply chain management, optical systems and engineering, reliability and failure analysis, rotorcraft and unmanned systems, severe weather, space propulsion and more. UAH prepares students for demanding positions in engineering, the sciences, business, nursing, education, the arts, humanities and social sciences.