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UTA breaks ground on newest academic and research building

A groundbreaking ceremony at the University of Texas Arlington on Oct. 27 kicked off the construction of a new $125 million Science and Engineering Innovation and Research (SEIR) building that will be the signature research facility for life and health science research at UTA.

Texas elected officials, faculty and university supporters joined UTA President Vistasp M. Karbhari at the groundbreaking.

“We’re here to celebrate another milestone in our journey to being the very best university in the state of Texas,” Karbhari said. “Every day brings a celebration of a new plaudit, a new achievement by our students and a new attainment of excellence by our faculty.”

Karbhari said the new SEIR building is a result of tremendous growth at UTA, which started the current academic year with 40,000 students and is expected to the end the academic year with more than 57,000 students, making it the largest university in the UT system and the seventh fastest-growing university in the United States.

Karbhari said the new academic and research building, “will not only be a state-of-the-art research facility but a magnet for the best and brightest students.”

Karbhari was joined on the podium by Rep. Joe Barton (R-Ennis); Sen. Kelly Hancock (R-North Richland Hills); Rep. Tony Tinderholt (R-Fort Worth); Rep. Chris Turner (D-Grand Prairie); Duane Dimos, UTA vice president for research; and Leine Newby-Estrella, a second-year doctoral student in biology.

The project is supported in part by the $70 million in tuition revenue bonds – funds used to pay for construction on public university campuses – which state lawmakers approved in 2015.

Barton complimented UTA’s leadership on the new SEIR building and on the acceleration of the university’s “search for excellence, as a Carnegie Tier 1 institution and one of the largest universities in Texas.”

“This research facility will only help accelerate that acceleration,” Barton said.

Turner said it was exciting and important day for UTA and the entire state of Texas, and added that Texas can be assured the new research facility “will be put to optimal use for students.”

“It will be even more exciting someday a few years from now when UT Arlington researchers working in this new building discover a breakthrough that changes our world for the better, and I have no doubt that day is coming,” said Turner.

The 220,000-square-foot facility, located south of the existing Life Science building and southeast of the College of Nursing and Innovation, will be the first new academic and research facility on the UTA campus since the Engineering Research Building opened in 2011.

Designed by Page Southerland Page Inc. and ZGF Architects LLP, the building will include a four-story wing with a basement level for research laboratory use and a two-story instructional classroom wing that can be adapted to host conferences and workshops.

The new facility will allow growth in the Colleges of Engineering, Nursing and Health Innovation, and Science, enabling UTA to keep up with the demand for degrees in engineering, science, nursing and allied health careers, Karbhari said.

Research in a range of topics related to life and health science will focus on chronic illness, aging and rehabilitation; biomaterials and tissue engineering; neuroscience; population health and health risks associated with heart and kidney problems; and data analytics for health research.

“The SEIR building is an example of UTA’s commitment to excellence and of its intention to be a leader in truly transformational research in health and life sciences,” said Morteza G. Khaledi, dean of the College of Science. “The state-of-the-art facilities in the SEIR building will also mean expanded research opportunities for all students, including our undergraduates. Being a part of an interdisciplinary team that focuses on discovering new knowledge can be a very rewarding and inspiring experience for our students.”

Hunt Construction is the general contractor for the project.

The building is scheduled to open in 2018.