University of Nevada, Reno readies for “Fourth Industrial Revolution” with $92m building

Builders broke ground this week on a major new building for the fast-growing College of Engineering at the University of Nevada, Reno (UNR), as the state looks to attract high-tech companies in the "Fourth Industrial Revolution".

Costing just under $92m, the four-storey William N. Pennington Engineering Building will house 40 new laboratories, offices for more than 40 faculty staff, 150 graduate work stations and other amenities.

At the groundbreaking on 23 October, Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval said the facility would help lure companies like Tesla and Panasonic, and even crypto-currency firms.

Designed by H+K Architects, and to be built by Nevada firm Core Construction, the building is needed to accommodate the rapid expansion of UNR’s College of Engineering, where enrolment has almost doubled since 2005, according to UNR’s press office.

Forty extra faculty staff are expected to join in the next five years, the press office said.

The State of Nevada is putting $41.5m into the building, with the remaining $50.4m coming from UNR and university donors.

Governor Sandoval said the investment is worth it.

"A while back I got a tour of engineering, it was apparent we needed a new building, a foundation for the new Nevada economy," he told ceremony attendees.

"When I talk to the heads of corporations about coming to Nevada, the first question they ask is ‘Where do we find our engineers?’ They don’t want to recruit from out of state."

As examples he gave Blockchain, Panasonic and Tesla.

"The Fourth Industrial Revolution is upon us and at the forefront of the new Nevada economy as top corporations come to Nevada," Sandoval said. "We knew that we needed an excellent engineering school to build the workforce."

After its completion scheduled for 2020, the building will have space for each of the college’s five departments: Chemical and Materials Engineering; Civil and Environmental Engineering, Computer Science and Engineering; Electrical and Biomedical Engineering; and Mechanical Engineering.

Image: Render of the William N. Pennington Engineering Building at the University of Nevada, Reno (UNR)

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