Breaking ground for the Engineering Education and Research Center

EERC Groundbreaking Celebration-16

With, from left, Chancellor Bill McRaven, Student Engineering Council President Anuj Kudva, and Engineering Dean Sharon Wood

Yesterday, I was honored to help break ground for our Engineering Education and Research Center. For many years this major new facility has been the dream of our engineering alumni, industry leaders throughout the state, and three successive deans: Ben Streetman, Greg Fenves, and Sharon Wood. Now it is becoming a reality.

Slated to open in 2017, the EERC will enhance our culture of innovation and transform engineering education with cross-disciplinary teaching and research. It will include:

• 430,000 square feet of open and flexible space for interactive learning and hands-on student projects
• 21st-century teaching and research labs for creating new technologies and solving real-world problems
• State-of-the-art engineering library and cafe, where students will study, collaborate and socialize
• A central location for all engineering student services, such as student life, advising and career assistance
• A new home for the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, the Cockrell School’s largest department

My heartfelt thanks goes to the many donors and leaders who have brought us to this point. The EERC will allow our Cockrell School of Engineering to soar to even greater heights, and that will be good for all of Texas. This remarkable video offers a preview:

What starts here changes the world.
Bill Powers signature

Sharon Wood becomes next dean of UT’s Cockrell School of Engineering

Wood, Sharon 2013

 

I am delighted to announce that Sharon Wood — a distinguished engineering professor who has served as interim dean of our Cockrell School since October — is now the Cockrell School’s ninth dean. Sharon joins a select group of scholars to have led the school since T.U. Taylor taught our first engineering class in 1888. I am proud that she is the first female dean of this school, just as she was the first female department head within the Cockrell School. Sharon is a national expert in the performance of concrete structures during earthquakes.

The Cockrell School is ranked No. 10 in the nation, and best in Texas, by U.S. News & World Report. Sharon will lead its 270 faculty members and more than 7,500 students and oversee annual research expenditures exceeding $150 million. Leading the imminent construction of the Engineering Education and Research Center, which will elevate the Cockrell School even further, will be among her most important activities.

Sharon received her bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from the University of Virginia and her master’s degree and doctorate in civil engineering from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where she also served on the faculty for 10 years. She joined the Cockrell School faculty in 1996.

I look forward to seeing the new heights the Cockrell School of Engineering will attain because of Dean Wood’s leadership.

What starts here changes the world.

Bill's Signature

Tillersons give $5 million for new engineering building

tillerson-eerc-gift

From left : Provost Greg Fenves and his wife, Carmel; Cockrell School interim Dean Sharon Wood; Renda and Rex Tillerson; and my wife, Kim Heilbrun, and me

Distinguished Alumnus Rex Tillerson and his wife, Renda, have pledged $5 million to help build the Engineering Education and Research Center. Rex is chairman and CEO of ExxonMobil.

Rex and Renda have been loyal friends of the University, and I’m grateful for this generous gift in support of the research, teaching and collaboration that will thrive in the EERC. Their commitment demonstrates a strong belief in our ability to educate and develop engineering leaders who will change the world.

When completed in 2017, the EERC will house advanced teaching, research, and student project spaces that will foster collaboration among students and researchers in the Cockrell School’s seven departments and across the UT campus.

Rex earned his bachelor’s degree in civil engineering here in 1975, and his sons, Robert and Michael, are graduates of the Cockrell School as well. He’s a member of the school’s Engineering Advisory Board and of the UT Development Board. Beginning with his first gift in 1978, Rex has been a devoted supporter of many parts of the University.

The Tillersons’ gift moves us closer to crossing the $3 billion goal line of the Campaign for Texas. Our total now stands at $2,835,369,779. Thank you, Rex and Renda!

Bill's Signature