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Engineering opening coincides with Expo

A soggy Friday morning didn’t dampen spirits as USF President Judy Genshaft unveiled the new $9.1 million Engineering Building III with an official ribbon-cutting ceremony.Genshaft said the ceremony was an important point in her presidency in that the ground-breaking ceremony in October 2000 was one of her first official acts at USF.

“As I pushed the shovel into the dry and sandy soil that day, I was thinking about how important this day would be,” she said. “What we are here about is moving the university forward.”

Genshaft said the new building will be home to the chemical, civil, environmental, industrial and mechanical engineering offices. She said the building is an important step in improving the learning environment for engineering students.

“This new building is a representation in bricks and mortar of the exciting development in our College of Engineering,” she said.Present at the ceremony were several engineering faculty members and community members who had given gifts for the building. Among these was USF alumnus John Ramil, president for Tampa Electric. Ramil is also a member of the USF Board of Trustees, and his company gave $1 million toward the construction.

Ramil said he is pleased to see the new building completed and ready for use.

“The space is really needed by the college,” he said. “I think it’ll work to serve the students well.”

Ramil said Tampa Electric employs 333 USF alumni, seven of which are at the president and vice president level. He said, therefore, the money spent on the building was a good investment for his company.

“Our business is highly technical and we employ many engineers,” he said. “Having high-quality graduates from a local university is a real plus for our business.”

The new building adds 32,000 square feet and is comprised of 16 laboratories, two computer labs, a classroom and faculty offices. It will open following the completion of the spring semester. Once the building is in use, the college will vacate the aging Kopp Engineering Building, which will undergo an 18-month renovation.

Friday’s ceremony coincided with the college’s annual Engineering Expo. Several engineering students present at the expo watched as the ribbon-cutting took place. Among these was Ryan Florence, a senior in civil engineering. Florence said he feels the new building will enhance the learning environment.

“As an engineering student I’m really thrilled to see this new building is opening up, giving us more opportunities to get the chances we’ve been looking for,” he said.

Florence said the biggest benefit from the new structure is increased space for research and study.

“I’m interested in research myself, so, hopefully, as far as research is concerned, it will offer a greater opportunity to be part of that,” he said.

Roughly 150 people attended the ceremony. Each of the dignitaries was given a commemorative coffee mug and utility wrench and was greeted at the building by a jazz band. After the ceremony, tours of the new building were given.

Another attendee was USF alumnus and professional engineer Oliver Rodrigues. He said having been a part of the USF community for several years, he was pleased to see the expansion.

“It’s great to see the college is growing as well as the university in general,” Rodrigues said. “I support the university and will continue to support the university as it grows.”

Rodrigues said the new building will provide several benefits to students.

“It expands the learning opportunity for the College of Engineering,” he said.

“It’s provided additional facilities and tools for them to gain a more well-rounded education in engineering. I think it has greatly enhanced the college.”

Also in attendance were faculty members at the college. Lecturer Paul McCright, who also participated in the expo, was among those faculty who watched the ceremony. McCright said he is excited to have larger laboratory space.

“It reflects USF’s commitment to the students and the faculty and the staff,” he said. “We’re very excited about moving into it and putting it to use.”

McCright said the ceremony coinciding with the Engineering Expo was important because it gave dignitaries a chance to see the college at work. He said the new structure is beautiful, and he looks forward to eventually occupying the building.

“(The new rooms) are all much nicer. They will function more easily and they just look more pleasant,” he said. “It’s just more conducive to good morale and people feeling good about what they’re doing.”

  • Contact Rob Brannon at