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January 11, 2013 — The University of Wyoming Board of Trustees is expected to select an architect and location for a new Energy Engineering Research Facility during the board’s regular meeting Thursday and Friday, Jan. 17-18.
The meeting begins at 10 a.m. Thursday in Room 506 of Coe Library. All meetings are open to the public except for executive sessions.
The business meeting, in which trustees take formal action on agenda items, is scheduled for 2:15 p.m. Friday, also in Room 506 of Coe Library. Public testimony will be accepted at 11 a.m. Friday.
The Energy Engineering Research Facility (EERF) is one of two construction projects planned to upgrade facilities for UW’s College of Engineering and Applied Science. It will be built in partnership with the School of Energy Resources and the Department of Geology and Geophysics.
While plans call for a major renovation and expansion of the Engineering Building near the heart of the UW campus, construction of a separate EERF is intended to enhance UW’s research capacity in strategic energy areas. Planners have suggested it be located near UW’s Central Energy Plant and the Regulated Materials Management Center at 19th Street and the Gibbon Street extension on the east end of campus.
The EERF project is funded by a $15 million appropriation from the Wyoming State Legislature, matched by $15 million in private donations. Construction could begin in the fall of 2014, with completion by the spring of 2016. It’s expected to contain about 81,000 square feet with large-scale, flexibly configured research laboratories, offices and meeting areas.
The EERF will be the second UW building dedicated to the university’s growing energy research programs. Nearing completion next to the Engineering Building on Lewis Street is the Energy Innovation Center (EIC), a 30,000-square-foot facility that will serve as the home of the School of Energy Resources and its various centers of excellence. It’s also funded through private donations and state matching funds.
While the EIC contains 12,000 square feet of rapidly reconfigurable laboratory space, it does not include necessary space and infrastructure to house and support large-scale testing related to energy development, conversion and conservation. Providing that large-scale testing space -- along with a place for collaborative, multidisciplinary research and advanced education initiatives -- is the purpose of the EERF.
The EERF project is expected to begin and be completed before the Engineering Building renovation and expansion, in part, because the EERF is a simpler structure, and because funding is expected to be secured earlier. The firm selected by the trustees next week will provide architect and engineering services for both projects which, together, represent what is expected to be the biggest capital construction undertaking in UW history.
Both the EERF and the Engineering Building projects are tied to the work of the Governor’s Energy, Engineering, STEM Integration Task Force, which recently released its strategy for creating a “Tier 1” engineering program at UW. The report calls for significant programmatic changes, in addition to facility upgrades. The task force is scheduled to meet with UW trustees over lunch from 11:45 a.m.-1 p.m. Friday in the Wyoming Union Family Room as part of the board’s agenda.
During their Jan. 17-18 meeting, trustees also are scheduled to:
-- Approve guaranteed maximum prices for projects to renovate and expand Half Acre Gym and to renovate the Biological Sciences Building.
-- Hear reports on a proposal for UW to operate a business incubator in Casper; on UW’s plans for medical education; and on the 2012 student satisfaction survey.
-- Participate in the grand reopening of the UW Geological Museum at 3:30 p.m. Thursday.
The complete agenda, along with a report that includes background information on agenda items, can be found on the Web at http://www.uwyo.edu/trustees/current-board-meetings.