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Featured: A section of the $70 million, four-story addition to the Science Building at The University of Texas-Pan American, which received final approval for funding and design development by the UT System Board of Regents in Austin on Thursday, May 14.

Graphics Courtesy MUÑOZ AND COMPANY

A $70 million addition to the Science Building at the University of Texas-Pan American has been approved by the UT System Board of Regents, paving the way for thousands of students a year to receive a cutting-edge education that will lead to professions focused on preventing and treating diseases that cause illnesses and deaths in people, the Edinburg Economic Development Corporation has announced. Meeting in Austin for a regularly-scheduled public meeting, the nine-member UT System governing board, which includes Ernest Aliseda of McAllen, on Thursday, May 14, gave final approval for the release of funding and of design development for the 115,000-square-foot structure. Anticipated construction start is scheduled for December 2015, anticipated substantial completion will take place by December 2017, and the final completion is expected by February 2018, according to the UT System. “This new facility represents the next big wave of higher education opportunities in Edinburg and for deep South Texas,” said Mayor Richard García. “In addition to the positive economic impact in our community from its construction, it will provide the crucial infrastructure, such as classrooms, offices, suites, works stations, laboratories, and equipment, to increase STEM graduates to 873 a year, and provide 16 additional labs that will reduce the time to graduate.” STEM stands for the fields of science, technology, engineering and math. Four teaching labs will allow 4,200 students to take courses and labs during the same semester. The overall project will accommodate 16 additional research labs, two classrooms, 42 faculty offices, 11 staff work stations, and eight suites for research assistants. According to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, STEM-related programs became a national priority in 2011 because too few college students are pursuing degrees in these fields. The U.S. Department of Labor expects that there will be 1.2 million job openings in STEM related fields by 2018, but there won’t be enough qualified graduates to fill them. The EEDC, which is led by García, is the jobs-creation arm of the mayor and Edinburg City Council. The mayor serves as the President of the five-member EEDC Board of Directors, which works with EEDC Executive Director Agustín “Gus” García, Jr. and his staff on major projects, such as new construction and additional degree programs at UT-Pan American. Mayor Richard García and EEDC Executive Director Gus García are not related. Dr. Havidán Rodríguez, President Ad Interim for UT-Pan American, also serves on the EEDC Board of Directors. Rep. Terry Canales, D-Edinburg, whose House District 40 is home to UT-Pan American, works closely with the city’s elected and appointed leadership, as well as with UT System and UTPA officials, to promote growth and investment at the Edinburg campus, which serves more than 20,000 students. “I wish to commend the University of Texas System Board of Regents for their vision and drive to grow and expand the System’s resources in deep South Texas,” Canales said. “The Science Building (addition) will provide much needed classroom and lab space for the university, while increasing the instructional efficiency for all students of the new University of Texas System institution.” Canales in 2o13 was a joint cosponsor of Senate Bill 24 by Sen. Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa, D-McAllen, and Rep. René Oliveira, D-Brownsville, which is combining the resources of UT-Pan American and UT-Brownsville into that new institution referenced by Canales, to be known as The University of Texas-Rio Grande Valley. UT-Pan American will be the largest component of UT-RGV, complete with a full-fledged medical school, at the end of this August, when UT-Rio Grande Valley becomes a reality. “UT-RGV is more than a new university or a new logo, it is a vision for the future of our community. The investments that the UT System Board of Regents has made in the Rio Grande Valley bring with it a new opportunity for our youth to pursue a quality education and work towards a brighter future for them and their families,” Canales said. Michael O’Donnell, Associate Vice Chancellor for Facilities Planning and Construction for the UT System, noted that the $70 million addition will also provide the space necessary to increase research capacity for approximately 168 researchers, supporting physical and biological sciences with a focus on biomedical research. Hinojosa, whose Senate District 27 includes UT-Pan American, praised the emphasis on producing more students with high-level biomedical research capabilities. “Biomedical research involves the sciences whose goal is to come up with effective treatments and cures for the most serious afflictions, and just like the School of Medicine that is now under construction in Edinburg, this new addition to our Science Building will produce dramatic advances for all of Texas,” said Hinojosa. “When the upcoming 115,000 square-foot addition is connected to the existing Science Building, we will wind up with a 272,000 square-foot intensive STEM research and learning center. It is going to be an extremely large and impressive state-of-the-art complex.” The building will support 21st-century classroom and teaching pedagogies by providing additional group study rooms, collaboration spaces, huddle rooms located throughout the facility, and flexible classrooms and teaching labs supported with AV and IT technologies for long distance and enhanced learning, O’Donnell added. Rooms will also be designed to support multiple furniture configurations. He noted some of the many complexities of linking the Science Building and the $70 million addition. We are constructing a building on a completed, basically built-out campus. Accordingly, the vision and the decision consistent with the Master Plan to put this building in there, this is as big a building as we could fit in there. It met the needs of the campus as it was designed,” O’Donnell said. “But at the same time, this particular addition is very difficult to build, because we have to do lifts from outside, with cranes, into the facility, into the courtyard, to be able to complete the building.” Despite the challenges of connecting the $70 million addition to the exiting Science Building – including having to import contractors from outside the Valley for considerable specialized work – “this building is going to be built for a 21st century learning,” he said.

••••••

$70 Million Science Building for UT-Pan American, approved May 14 by UT System Board of Regents, will feature life-saving biomedical research, say EEDC, Rep. Canales, Sen. Hinojosa

By DAVID A. DÍAZ
Legislativemedia@aol.com

A $70 million addition to the Science Building at the University of Texas-Pan American has been approved by the UT System Board of Regents, paving the way for thousands of students a year to receive a cutting-edge education that will lead to professions focused on preventing and treating diseases that cause illnesses and deaths in people, the Edinburg Economic Development Corporation has announced.

Meeting in Austin for a regularly-scheduled public meeting, the nine-member UT System governing board, which includes Ernest Aliseda of McAllen, on Thursday, May 14, gave final approval for the release of funding and of design development for the 115,000-square-foot structure.

Anticipated construction start is scheduled for December 2015, anticipated substantial completion will take place by December 2017, and the final completion is expected by February 2018, according to the UT System.

“This new facility represents the next big wave of higher education opportunities in Edinburg and for deep South Texas,” said Mayor Richard García. “In addition to the positive economic impact in our community from its construction, it will provide the crucial infrastructure, such as classrooms, offices, suites, works stations, laboratories, and equipment, to increase STEM graduates to 873 a year, and provide 16 additional labs that will reduce the time to graduate.”

STEM stands for the fields of science, technology, engineering and math.

Four teaching labs will allow 4,200 students to take courses and labs during the same semester.

The overall project will accommodate 16 additional research labs, two classrooms, 42 faculty offices, 11 staff work stations, and eight suites for research assistants.

According to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, STEM-related programs became a national priority in 2011 because too few college students are pursuing degrees in these fields. The U.S. Department of Labor expects that there will be 1.2 million job openings in STEM related fields by 2018, but there won’t be enough qualified graduates to fill them.

The EEDC, which is led by García, is the jobs-creation arm of the mayor and Edinburg City Council.

The mayor serves as the President of the five-member EEDC Board of Directors, which works with EEDC Executive Director Agustín “Gus” García, Jr. and his staff on major projects, such as new construction and additional degree programs at UT-Pan American.

Mayor Richard García and EEDC Executive Director Gus García are not related.

Dr. Havidán Rodríguez, President Ad Interim for UT-Pan American, also serves on the EEDC Board of Directors.

REP. CANALES: “ A VISION FOR THE FUTURE OF OUR COMMUNITY.”

Rep. Terry Canales, D-Edinburg, whose House District 40 is home to UT-Pan American, works closely with the city’s elected and appointed leadership, as well as with UT System and UTPA officials, to promote growth and investment at the Edinburg campus, which serves more than 20,000 students.

“I wish to commend the University of Texas System Board of Regents for their vision and drive to grow and expand the System’s resources in deep South Texas,” Canales said. “The Science Building (addition) will provide much needed classroom and lab space for the university, while increasing the instructional efficiency for all students of the new University of Texas System institution.”

Canales in 2o13 was a joint cosponsor of Senate Bill 24 by Sen. Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa, D-McAllen, and Rep. René Oliveira, D-Brownsville, which is combining the resources of UT-Pan American and UT-Brownsville into that new institution referenced by Canales, to be known as The University of Texas-Rio Grande Valley.

UT-Pan American will be the largest component of UT-RGV, complete with a full-fledged medical school, at the end of this August, when UT-Rio Grande Valley becomes a reality.

“UT-RGV is more than a new university or a new logo, it is a vision for the future of our community. The investments that the UT System Board of Regents has made in the Rio Grande Valley bring with it a new opportunity for our youth to pursue a quality education and work towards a brighter future for them and their families,” Canales said.

He thanked the regents “for your commitment to the people of the Rio Grande Valley, and I look forward to building a better future for Texans.”

Michael O’Donnell, Associate Vice Chancellor for Facilities Planning and Construction for the UT System, noted that the $70 million addition will also provide the space necessary to increase research capacity for approximately 168 researchers, supporting physical and biological sciences with a focus on biomedical research.

SEN. HINOJOSA: “IT IS GOING TO BE AN EXTREMELY IMPRESSIVE STATE-OF-THE-ART COMPLEX.”

Hinojosa, whose Senate District 27 includes UT-Pan American, praised the emphasis on producing more students with high-level biomedical research capabilities.

“Biomedical research involves the sciences whose goal is to come up with effective treatments and cures for the most serious afflictions, and just like the School of Medicine that is now under construction in Edinburg, this new addition to our Science Building will produce dramatic advances for all of Texas,” said Hinojosa. “When the upcoming 115,000 square-foot addition is connected to the existing Science Building, we will wind up with a 272,000 square-foot intensive STEM research and learning center. It is going to be an extremely large and impressive state-of-the-art complex.”

The proposed spaces within will include classrooms, teaching labs, faculty and researcher offices, an instrumentation research and teaching core, and research labs supporting biological and physical sciences (physics, chemistry synthesis, general research requiring hoods, life sciences, geology, and some infectious materials normally characterized as Bio Safety Level-2), O’Donnell said. The current allocation of all assignable square feet within is distributed at an overall of 68% research and 32% teaching.

“The project scope, sited on an area of the UT-RGV campus (currently UT-Pan American) that is adjacent to the existing Science Building located in the heart of the Edinburg campus, is consistent with the campus Master Plan for creation of a science and research complex,” O’Donnell informed the regents.

The proposed building will also complement the existing unique architectural vocabulary of the Edinburg campus, he continued.

“The proposed elevations were reviewed with UT-RGV administration in March of 2015 for architectural and Master Plan compliance and found to be acceptable and contributing to the development of the Master Plan,” O’Donnell said. “The new Science Building will complete the enclosure of the courtyard envisioned with the original facility constructed in 1998.”

The new $70 million facility will be a four-story structure constructed using steel framing and masonry veneer, with metal stud backup wall systems. It is designed to complement the existing three-story Science Building and encourages cross-disciplinary collaboration and education between students, faculty, and researchers, placing science on display within the facility for students and visitors.

“The building will support classroom and teaching pedagogies by providing additional group study rooms, collaboration spaces, huddle rooms located throughout the facility, and flexible classrooms and teaching labs supported with AV and IT technologies for long distance and enhanced learning,” O’Donnell added. “Rooms will also be designed to support multiple furniture configurations.”

The existing Science Building and the $70 million addition will incorporate separate HVAC (Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning) systems, “so we are not trying to filter air between the two buildings. We have separate systems that operate completely differently,” O’Donnell said.

He noted some of the many complexities of linking the Science Building and the $70 million addition.

“We are constructing a building on a completed, basically built-out campus. Accordingly, the vision and the decision consistent with the Master Plan to put this building in there, this is as big a building as we could fit in there. It met the needs of the campus as it was designed,” O’Donnell said. “But at the same time, this particular addition is very difficult to build, because we have to do lifts from outside, with cranes, into the facility, into the courtyard, to be able to complete the building.”

Despite the challenges of connecting the $70 million addition to the existing Science Building – including having to import contractors from outside the Valley for considerable specialized work – “this building is going to be built for a 21st century learning,” he said.

••••••

The Edinburg Economic Development Corporation is the jobs-creation arm of the Edinburg City Council. It’s five-member governing board, which is appointed by the Edinburg City Council, includes Mayor Richard García as President, Fred Palacios as Secretary-Treasurer, and Felipe García, Dr. Havidán Rodríguez, and Steven Edward Cruz, II. For more information on the EEDC and the City of Edinburg, please log on to http://www.EdbgCityLimits.com or to http://www.facebook.com/edinburgedc

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