UND Breaks Ground on Collaborative Energy Complex

GRAND FORKS, N.D. — The University of North Dakota (UND) in Grand Forks broke ground July 20 on the Collaborative Energy Complex (CEC), a new facility that will become the new front door to the university’s College of Engineering and Mines.

The nearly 37,000-square-foot CEC will be set on the southeast part of campus between Leonard Hall and Upson Hall I. The new structure will connect the two existing facilities, forming a major engineering education and research complex that will include Upson Hall I & II, Harrington Hall and the nearby Wilson M. Laird Core and Sample Library.

“What a great day for the university and the College of Engineering and Mines,” said UND President Robert Kelley, in a statement. “I commend Dean Hesham El-Rewini and his colleagues for their initiative and vision for the Collaborative Energy Complex, which should provide immediate opportunities for students and long-term solutions for the future of North Dakota and the nation. This facility and the way it was funded ― almost entirely with donations and with important funding from the North Dakota Higher Education Challenge Fund ― is an excellent example of a successful private-sector partnerships, the kind that UND has fostered across our academic and research enterprises.”

El-Rewini noted that the new facility will provide students and faculty with a place to interact with each other as well as with colleagues from other units on campus and beyond.

The CEC will serve as a new headquarters for all areas of energy-related programs within the College of Engineering and Mines, including the Institute for Energy Studies (IES). The College of Engineering and Mines is currently at capacity with petroleum engineering students, fueled by booming oil and gas exploration in western North Dakota. The Petroleum Engineering program started with four students in 2010 and is expecting as many as 350 students in the fall of 2015.

The IES is a university-wide institute led and administered by the College of Engineering and Mines. The CEC will provide the IES with additional space to accommodate their activities. The new building also will be the home of the Solberg Family Student Success Center, which will serve students from all disciplines in the College of Engineering & Mines through personalized advising and mentorship, outreach activities, professional development opportunities, internships and industry interactions.

In addition to providing labs and multipurpose teaching centers, the new facility will provide space for interdisciplinary collaboration and innovation among students, faculty and industry representatives.

After it’s complete, the CEC will feature almost 37,000 square feet of research and teaching labs, as well as customized spaces for students and staff. It will also include a 40-vertical-foot “High Bay Lab” that will be equipped with a 2-ton bridge crane.

“More than just a building to house programs, CEC is about people, about collaboration, about innovation and about building bridges with industry. It will provide students and faculty with a place to interact with each other as well as with colleagues from other colleges on campus and with industry,” said El-Rewini in a statement. “CEC will provide our students and researchers with access to cutting edge laboratories and equipment. Students’ educational experience will be enriched through industry interactions, personalized mentorship, professional development opportunities and outreach activities.”

“In 2013, Governor Dalrymple and I set out to jumpstart private donations to North Dakota colleges and universities by moving the North Dakota Higher Education Challenge Fund initiative through the Legislature and with their help, we did just that," added North Dakota Lieutenant Gov. Drew Wrigley, in a statement. "The Challenge Fund grant review committee awarded $29 million to our schools in the last biennium thanks to the generous donations made by individuals and businesses. Because of those donations and Challenge Fund dollars, North Dakota colleges and universities have been able to invest almost $90 million in their campuses and programs.”