Gov. Jindal announces $100 Million Public-Private Partnership Project for new state-of-the-art LSU engineering complex

Staff Writer
Gonzales Weekly Citizen

Governor Bobby Jindal announced a $100 million public-private partnership today to renovate and expand Patrick F. Taylor Hall at LSU to create a new state-of-the-art engineering education complex.

The new and renovated engineering complex will include expanded, modern laboratory space for teaching as well as translational research, enhanced and expanded space for student services, updated graduate student space, an academic support center, and dedicated capstone project space and other multi-disciplinary space for student projects. The architectural design phase will start in December of this year; construction is slated to begin in the fall of 2014 and is estimated to be completed by the fall of 2016.

Completed in 1977, Taylor Hall remains the largest freestanding building on the LSU campus at approximately 300,000 square feet. The building has structurally depreciated over the past 30 years and the building is in need of significant repair.

Prior to the construction of the new business school complex, the LSU College of Engineering had access to only about half of the available space in Taylor Hall. With the renovation of Taylor Hall, as well as the addition of a new annex dedicated to chemical engineering, the total amount of first-class academic space for the LSU College of Engineering will now grow to more than 380,000 square feet – an increase of more than 100 percent.

The Governor said his administration will support $50 million in capital outlay funding for the project and the remaining funds will be covered by private donations. To date, the engineering school has already raised $8 million for the project.

Governor Jindal said, "Over the past four and a half years, Louisiana's economy has outperformed the national and southern economies and we have rocketed to the top of national rankings for business climate. These are signs of incredible progress. But, we cannot rest on our laurels. We cannot become complacent if we truly want to make Louisiana the best place in the world to raise a family and find a job. That's why we need to build on our progress and make sure Louisiana remains competitive and attractive to companies to looking to invest and create jobs. That means having a workforce with world-class skills.

"Making sure we have the most skilled workforce in the world so we can attract the jobs of the future starts at our flagship university. We all know that LSU is a world-class destination for athletics, and we know that every Saturday in the fall we want to be number one on the field. We must transfer that same intensity and focus to the academic side of LSU. We want LSU to be number one on the field and in the classroom. That means making LSU a magnet to attract the best and brightest students, teachers and researchers from all over the world. That in turn will make a strong LSU and a strong LSU means a strong Louisiana.

"Today's announcement is about fulfilling that goal and continuing on our mission to help LSU reach its full potential. The new engineering education complex will create a state-of-the-art learning environment to train the engineers of tomorrow and give them skills they need to find job opportunities here in Louisiana, which will help us continue to grow our economy."

The Governor highlighted the importance of the new engineering education complex in terms of the role the new facility will play in growing a skilled workforce in the areas of engineering, construction management and computer science. The LSU College of Engineering currently graduates roughly 560 bachelor's graduates per year, ranking it in the top 10 percent nationally for graduates. LSU is the largest degree-granting engineering program in Louisiana, accounting for roughly 50 percent of all engineering and construction management graduates in the state. In Louisiana, most types of engineers make average salaries ranging from $83,000 to $108,000, plus benefits.

Governor Jindal said, "Workforce estimates published by the Louisiana Workforce Commission and the Louisiana Board of Regents suggest that we will need to increase the number of our engineering and construction management graduates statewide by at least 30 percent per year, or roughly 330 more graduates per year statewide across all institutions, just to meet current demand.

"However, those growth numbers don't fully take into account large, new drivers in demand for engineering graduates at LSU and elsewhere. For example, LED estimates we will see tens of billions of dollars in new industrial construction projects break ground in just the next few years, and many of those facilities will be designed in large part by LSU engineering graduates. Construction management graduates of LSU will be intimately involved in the construction of many of those projects. Indeed, LSU will play a central role in Louisiana's emerging manufacturing renaissance."

Governor Jindal said Louisiana's software and digital media sector is taking off, with companies like Ameritas Technologies, CenturyLink, Gameloft, GE Capital, Pixomondo, Schumacher Group, TraceSecurity, TurboSquid and others collectively planning to add many hundreds of computer science grads over the next few years.

Beyond the planned infrastructure investments in state-of-the art facilities, the College of Engineering recently created a new School of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science through the merger of the Department of Computer Science, previously in the College of Science, with the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, in order to create greater synergy between these two complementary and interrelated academic areas. The Governor said this reflects the significant growth expected in the software development, digital media, and digital and social gaming technology sectors in Louisiana.

LED also expects that Louisiana is going to see growth in durable goods manufacturing as more companies begin to place manufacturing investments in the U.S. again. The Governor said, "In fact, with all of the economic development announcements we've made over the last few years as well as more significant announcements on the way, we expect LSU's engineering school will need to increase its annual production of graduates by 150 to 275 graduates per year over the next few years, making today's announcement a critical investment for the future of LSU and our state."

"This investment will allow the College of Engineering to bring leading-edge educational experiences to our students, perform high-impact translational research and prepare the next generation engineering workforce with the skills needed to lead the industries driving our state's economy," said Rick Koubek, Dean, LSU College of Engineering.

"As evidenced by student and industry demand, the LSU College of Engineering has proven that it can produce a well-qualified engineering workforce. Louisiana and the United States need engineers that are able to grow businesses and create jobs in order to spur the economy," says Roy O. Martin, president of Roy O. Martin Lumber Company. "The market is demanding more engineers and LSU must meet this challenge. We thank the Governor and the Legislature for their help in creating one of the finest engineering programs in America. Now we hope that they can partner with the school of engineering to expand this successful program by enlarging and enhancing Patrick Taylor Hall funded by a public/private partnership."

"As we have said in the past, LSU can only be successful through the cooperation of the state, faculty/staff, the students, and our alumni," said William Jenkins, Interim LSU System President and LSU Chancellor. "We now turn to the alumni and friends to be our partner in the Patrick F. Taylor Hall Engineering Complex. Our friends are integral for developing world class facilities which in turn helps LSU provide better education and research experiences and, that in turn, serves Louisiana."

Since 2008, the Jindal Administration has invested more than $600 million dollars for critical higher education infrastructure investments. This total includes more than $150 million invested at LSU and the Baton Rouge research community.