Seats in the College of Engineering’s atrium filled quickly as students, faculty, alumni and affiliates awaited the start of the Phase IV expansion groundbreaking ceremony Friday afternoon. The Phase IV expansion will provide approximately 107,000 square feet of instructional, research and office
space in the heart of the university’s current engineering campus, while also bringing K-State one step closer to its goal of becoming a top 50 public research university by the year 2025.
The goal of the project is to consolidate functions currently dispersed over multiple locations, which will create a more flexible environment to inspire and support higher learning and collaboration.
"We are always growing and moving forward," said Gary Clark, Interim Dean of the College of Engineering and first speaker for the ceremony. "With great leadership and vision come great things, and ultimately success. Today’s groundbreaking is just another example of that at Kansas State University."
The Phase IV expansion is set to be completed by the year 2015 and will include many additions to the current engineering complex. Among these additions are new laboratories, offices, classrooms and a 250-seat lecture hall. The expansion is meant to ensure that the College of Engineering can continue to grow and expand and to alleviate the college’s tight space constraints.
"The need for engineers has never been higher," said K-State President Kirk Schulz, who also spoke at the ceremony. "We need outstanding, exceptional facilities to accommodate these demands and to continue to grow our engineering department."
In his speech, Schulz looked back on the history of land grant institutions and how they were formed for agriculture and mechanical arts.
"For us to be a top-50 public research university, we are going to need a great College of Agriculture and a great College of Engineering."
The Phase IV groundbreaking ceremony was the second ceremony of the day, with the new College of Business Administration building being introduced just hours before. Present at both ceremonies was Governor Sam Brownback.
"We need to continue to grow, not only as a university, but as a state," Brownback said. "For Kansas to continue to strive forward, we need more engineers. It is critical for our future, and we need to keep building things and expanding outward. The possibilities are here, and to be able to continue saying that, we need more things like this engineering building."
The new addition plans to bring all engineering majors into one unified building. This includes computer engineering majors, who are currently housed at Nichols Hall.
"I can’t wait to see what comes out of this expansion," Desmund Weathers, sophomore in computer engineering, said. "It’s great not only for the engineering department, but also allows computer-based majors to be surrounded by other engineering students."
After all the speeches, everyone was asked to go outside for the actual groundbreaking event. All seven speakers at the ceremony got to perform the groundbreaking. Among those not already mentioned were Provost and Senior Vice President April Mason; Brendan Bishop, junior in mechanical engineering; and K-State alumni Carl and Mary Ice. As they dug their gold shovels into the dirt outside Rathbone Hall, cheers erupted from the large audience of onlookers.