Groundbreaking Ceremony Launches Construction on the BYU Engineering Building

Contributed By Marianne Holman Prescott, Church News staff writer

  • 11 May 2016

Building donors and BYU community break ground for the new BYU Engineering Building in Provo, Utah, on Monday, May 9, 2016. The new building will be entirely funded by donors. Photo by Hans Koepsell, Deseret News.  Image courtesy of BYU.

Article Highlights

  • The department spent four years fundraising for the building.
  • The building is expected to be completed in time for the fall 2018 semester.

“Engineering and technology at BYU has a great future. Now, with state-of-the-art facilities we can accommodate more students.” —Alan R. Parkinson, dean of the Ira A. Fulton College of Engineering and Technology

Construction on a new, state-of-the-art five-story building, located at the south end of the Brigham Young University campus, has begun after BYU personnel, community members, and donors met—amid patches of rain—for the ceremonial groundbreaking on May 9.

“This has been a looked-for moment for a long time,” said Alan R. Parkinson, dean of the Ira A. Fulton College of Engineering and Technology. “We’ve talked about a building in our college for 20 years. … Then it took four years of fundraising, so it was a great moment and a great time to say, ‘Wow, we actually did it.’”

BYU President Kevin J. Worthen spoke and welcomed guests to the event, and King Husein, the chairman of the volunteer fundraising committee, shared remarks. A combined men’s choir provided prelude music and performed the hymn “High on the Mountain Top.”

Accommodating growth

Plans for the new building show the five-level structure will be 200,000 square feet and will house the college’s four engineering departments—chemical, civil and environmental, mechanical, electrical, and computer engineering.

Kevin J Worthen, president of BYU, speaks during the BYU Engineering Building groundbreaking ceremony in Provo, Utah, on Monday, May 9, 2016. Photo by Hans Koepsell, Deseret News.

King Husein, Volunteer Fundraising Committee chair, gives a speech at the BYU Engineering Building groundbreaking ceremony in Provo, Utah, on Monday, May 9, 2016. Photo by Hans Koepsell, Deseret News.

“Right now it doesn’t have a name, but I am sure it won’t take long,” said Brother Parkinson.

When complete, the building will have 158 faculty and administrative offices and 54 teaching and project laboratories, and the entire first floor of the building will house resources, tools, and space for student projects.

“When [the current] building was built we had 1,400 students in 1973,” said Brother Parkinson. “Now we have 4,000 students. … Growth, teaching engineering, and our research activity has grown remarkably since [the current] building was completed.”

That growth, along with the need for updated classrooms and resources, will help the college as it moves into the future.

“The way that engineering is taught continues to evolve,” Brother Parkinson said. “So, we still teach stuff in the classroom where you go in for lectures and things, but there is a lot of learning that takes place outside of the classroom, either in research laboratories or doing projects.”

The first floor will also have computer design facilities, an extensive prototyping shop, team meeting rooms, storage space, and flexible space that can be use for classroom instruction or for individual project work. Other areas will allow for open and flexible teaching spaces.

A banner, thanking the building donors, is displayed from the arm of the excavator during the BYU Engineering Building groundbreaking ceremony in Provo, Utah, on Monday, May 9, 2016. Photo by Hans Koepsell, Deseret News.

The W. W. Clyde Building—as well as the Crabtree and Snell Buildings on campus—currently house the engineering department and will continue to serve the college after the new building is complete. The new structure will connect with the Clyde Building at all above-ground levels and will cascade down the hillside where the Knight Mangum Building once stood.

Features of the new building include a café serving three meals a day and 3,000 square feet allotted for alumni events and career fairs. Open and flexible teaching spaces facilitate optimum learning and teaching opportunities for students and teachers, and the building will have dedicated space to exhibit and showcase current engineering projects.

“Engineering and technology at BYU has a great future,” said Brother Parkinson. “Now, with state-of-the-art facilities we can accommodate more students.”

The shovels used during the BYU Engineering Building groundbreaking ceremony in Provo, Utah, on Monday, May 9, 2016. Photo by Hans Koepsell, Deseret News.

The hand of the Lord

Brother Husein spoke of the “hard work, prayers, and generous donations large and small of friends and faculty.”

All of the funds to build the $80 million building have come through donations, Brother Husein said. “We saw the hand of the Lord, and doors were opened.”

Donations from all areas—private donors and even other colleges and departments of the university—joined together to provide the means to build a new building.

“The spirit of consecration filled the hearts of many,” said Brother Husein. Raising the money took about four years and was not an easy task. But through it all, Brother Husein hopes the new building will “provide students a facility to compete globally and provide the necessary tools to prepare students to shine in their field.”

President Worthen spoke of the collaboration that took place among the different colleges and programs of the university to contribute to the building funds.

Greg Nolte, left, talks with former colleagues Tanise Chung-Hoon, managing director of LDS Philanthropies, and Jennifer Amott, right, donor liaison at LDS Philanthropies, after the BYU Engineering Building groundbreaking ceremony in Provo, Utah, on Monday, May 9, 2016. Photo by Hans Koepsell, Deseret News.

“Those of you familiar with higher education know that that doesn’t happen very often when a college comes forward and says, ‘What we would really like to do is use some of our funds to help construct the building for a different college on campus.’ … There really is nothing like that that I am aware of at any other college or university, where people would come forward and say, ‘This is an effort we want to move along,’” he said.

The story of how the funds came together includes many “miracles,” President Worthen said, adding that it all came together for “what’s going to happen in this building and what’s going to happen in the lives of the students who go here.”

Drawing from the university’s mission statement that states its purpose is to help individuals in their “quest for perfection and eternal life,” President Worthen spoke of ways the building will facilitate higher learning.

The new building brings “the development of men and women of faith and character to become leaders throughout the world, … conducting creative work of consequence that contributes to solving the world’s problems, … and helping students become an influence for good in the world that will go on in the new building,” he said.

The building is expected to take two years and will also include an “annex” that will house labs.

An artist rendering of the new BYU Engineering Building. Ground was broken for the new building in Provo, Utah, on Monday, May 9, 2016. The new Ira A. Fulton College of Engineering and Technology building will be 200,000 square feet and is expected to be finished in time for the fall 2018 semester, according to BYU.

An artist rendering of the new BYU Engineering Building. Ground was broken for the new building in Provo, Utah, on Monday, May 9, 2016. The new Ira A. Fulton College of Engineering and Technology building will be 200,000 square feet and is expected to be finished in time for the fall 2018 semester, according to BYU.

An artist rendering of the new BYU Engineering Building. Ground was broken for the new building in Provo, Utah, on Monday, May 9, 2016. The new Ira A. Fulton College of Engineering and Technology building will be 200,000 square feet and is expected to be finished in time for the fall 2018 semester, according to BYU.

Attendees participate in the BYU Engineering Building groundbreaking ceremony in Provo, Utah, on Monday, May 9, 2016. The new building will be funded by donors. Photo by Hans Koepsell, Deseret News.

Attendees applaud for the choir during the BYU Engineering Building groundbreaking ceremony in Provo, Utah, on Monday, May 9, 2016. Photo by Hans Koepsell, Deseret News.