COLUMBIA, Mo. - University of Missouri leaders and Gov. Jay Nixon held the official ribbon-cutting ceremony for the renovated Lafferre Hall, home to the College of Engineering, on Thursday. The renovations cost a total of $44.6 million, $38.5 million coming from bonds approved by Nixon and the Board of Public Buildings. The remaining $6.1 million came from private donations.
The university and the state hope the renovations help the MU College of Engineering to become a world leader in the field. The project replaced older parts of the building, creating state-of-the-art classroom space. The University of Missouri estimates the project will also eliminate more than $15 million in deferred maintenance costs.
The university expects more than 3,000 students to join the program, a number the new building will be able to accommodate.
"They hope to have, with this additional facility, an additional 3,300 students able to be educated just right here," Nixon said.
In addition to the students, the College of Engineering expects to hire up to 50 faculty members. The hires will work in conjunction with other colleges on campus.
"Our strength lies in our differences," said Elizath Loboa, College of Engineering dean. "The proximity of so many different schools within walking distance on the same campus allows us as engineers to develop out-the-box innovative solutions to the global challenges facing our world today."
Loboa said the faculty members would have "joint appointment," one person working in both the engineering and veterinary colleges for example.
"So we actually can create the technologies that are utilized to solve these global challenges," Loboa said.
Interim President Mike Middleton said the new facilities will help educate the state's future workforce, in turn fueling the economy for generations.
"Nationally, graduates in the areas of science, technology, engineering and math are in very high demand," Middleton said. "According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, by 2022, there will be 161,000 S.T.E.M. jobs to be filled in Missouri alone. 125,000 of them will require at least a four-year degree."
Middleton said last year S.T.E.M. graduates made up 40 percent of Mizzou's total graduates. He wants that number to keep growing and said this renovated Lafferre building can help that.
"To accomplish that growth, we need the physical infrastructure -- the labs, classroom space-- in place for those students," Middleton said.
"Everybody predicts thousands more students will be able to use this building and we know with engineering degrees being really in demand, this is a place where the workforce of tomorrow is going to be built," Nixon said.
Nixon said he believes the multi-disciplinary program design is the way future careers will unfold.
"I think by looking at designing programs for the future where you have multi-disciplinary programs in engineering to make the new products and drugs and things of the future, this is the concept that's going to succeed long run."