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Engineering Center among 3 major buildings coming to Georgia Southern
Interdisciplinary Building nearing completion
GSU Interdisciplinary Academic Building
Work continues this week on the Interdisciplinary Academic Building, a $33.6 million project on the Pedestrium that runs through the middle of Georgia Southern University's main Statesboro campus. - photo by AL HACKLE/Staff

In the middle of Georgia Southern University’s Statesboro campus, the Interdisciplinary Academic Building, with a $25.2 million construction budget, is nearing completion. The project has a $33.6 million total budget including design, construction and equipment.

Next, the state’s capital-projects budget for the fiscal year that began Sunday includes $49.9 million to build a Center for Engineering and Research, also on the Statesboro campus. Last year, $4.9 million was budgeted for planning and design of the center, giving it total funding so far of $54.8 million.

Meanwhile, the Waters College of Health Professions building is under construction on Georgia Southern’s Armstrong campus in Savannah after officials broke ground last August at what was then Armstrong State University. That building has a $22 million construction budget.

So together, these represent a state investment of roughly $110 million in buildings either under construction or planned for the new, three-city Georgia Southern formed by the merger with Armstrong and also including its Liberty campus in Hinesville.

“Georgia Southern is just poised to really take advantage of the economic engine that we’re seeing with the ports,” said new interim GSU President Shelley C. Nickel. “With all the logistics, with our new engineering building and engineering programs, I really think we are ready to help our business partners build a fantastic workforce for this region.”

Nickel, who officially took over as the university’s top administrator Sunday, expects to help open the interdisciplinary building soon and to be on board for a groundbreaking ceremony for the Center for Engineering and Research this fall. Depending on how long the search for a new permanent GSU president takes and whether construction stays on schedule, she may also get to open the College of Health Professions in Savannah in 2019.

“We will be opening the Interdisciplinary Building, hopefully later this summer, and offering classes in there,” Nickel said in an interview last week requested by the Statesboro Herald. “We will also be breaking ground for the new engineering building here on this campus, which is a really big deal.”

She had no information yet on any new engineering programs. But with that $49.9 million construction funding, Georgia Southern’s Center for Engineering and Research was the largest single item in the University System of Georgia’s fiscal 2019 capital outlay request, as found on the USG Board of Regents’ website. A $49.4 million project at Augusta University was a close second.


Engineering & Research

The Center for Engineering and Research is planned for the corner of Forest Drive and Akins Boulevard, currently site of a student parking lot. The building will include manufacturing engineering labs, mechanical engineering labs and space for research in all areas of engineering, according to a description provided Tuesday by Georgia Southern University Communications Director Jennifer Wise.

Besides regular lab spaces, specially equipped areas called research modules will be interspersed throughout the building. The manufacturing labs, Wise said, will house new state-of-the-art equipment for the recently launched manufacturing engineering program.

“The center’s many laboratories will provide our students and faculty a facility that encourages innovation, invention, and sustainability,” Mohammad S. Davoud, Ph.D., P.E., dean of the Allen E. Paulson College of Engineering and Computing, said in a statement Wise provided.

“The new center will greatly enhance our research capabilities, as well as opportunities for our faculty to engage students in hands-on research and teaching projects,” Davoud continued. “It will also increase our faculty’s ability to develop collaborative research projects with local industry and agency partners.”

In addition to the lab spaces, the building will include classrooms, conference rooms and offices.



Much sooner than the engineering center, Georgia Southern students in Statesboro will be experiencing the three-story, 109,000-square-foot Interdisciplinary Academic Building. Although work continues inside and out, this building has now taken shape on the Pedestrium -- the campus’ landscaped central walk – between the Information Technology Building and the Carroll Building.

The new building is “interdisciplinary” because it will be used by multiple departments and colleges. A summary of the project, on the university’s website and last updated in early August, 2017 states that the building will house the interior design, fashion merchandising and apparel design programs and also will be used for history, foreign languages, international studies and School of Human Ecology classes.

It replaces buildings 211, 212, 238 and 239, which were intended to be temporary but had been in place since 1987, 1990, and the latter two since 1994, respectively. These buildings together encompassed just 75,852 square feet of space, so the larger new buildings could receive all of those programs and still have “additional classrooms that can be used by other departments across the campus,” the summary stated.

Near this area, the former temporary building 804, around since 1990, previously housed the military science programs, but was replaced by the permanent $9.5 million Military Science building that opened in January 2017.


Health Professions

Construction started last summer on the Waters College of Health Professions building, on University Drive across from the Armstrong Center on the campus in Savannah.

The college was named for university system Board of Regents member Don Waters and his wife, Cindy Waters, of Savannah, who gave $2 million to the college.

As an academic unit, the Waters College of Health Professions includes programs such as nursing, athletic training and exercise science offered on any of the three campuses. Created under this name last year, it was one of three of Georgia Southern’s constituent colleges assigned to the Armstrong campus during the consolidation planning.

Five other subject-area colleges, among them the Allen E. Paulson College of Engineering and Computing, are headquartered on the Statesboro campus, but all offer courses in both Statesboro and Savannah.

Herald reporter Al Hackle may be reached at (912) 489-9458.

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