As you walk past the construction of the new University of Maine engineering building, you may spot a small tree sticking out of the top of one of the support beams. This tree was inserted along with the final beam, which was signed by engineering students and faculty.
The Ferland Engineering Education and Design Center (Ferland EEDC) is the newest facility to be constructed on the Orono campus. It will have state-of-the-art labs and equipment, and will become the new hub of engineering at UMaine. It was paid for by a $78 million fundraising platform through the University of Maine Foundation, and is being named for E. James “Jim” Ferland of the class of ‘64 and Eileen P. Ferland, who provided a $10 million naming gift to the university.
Construction on the Ferland EEDC began in May of last year, with the demolition of the Machine Tool Lab behind Boardman Hall to make way for the 108,000-square-foot building. Consigli Construction, the construction company overseeing the build, has made rapid progress toward completing the building since May.
On Friday, Feb. 12, a small virtual ceremony was held to commemorate the insertion of this final beam. President Joan Ferrini-Mundi, University of Maine System Chancellor Dannel Malloy, and Dean of the College of Engineering Dana Humpherey were all in attendance to make remarks about the event.
“This is a fantastic milestone for the UMaine community and the state,” Ferrini-Mundi said. “When the Ferland Center is dedicated in August 2022, it will provide amazing opportunities for collaborative, cross-discipline learning, and the creation of practical innovations by our students and faculty.”
The beam was hoisted into place using patented technology invented by a UMaine college of engineering alum, Oliver Crosby, from the class of 1876. Crosby’s company was also responsible for the creation of the crawler mounted crane, which was also utilized in the “topping off ceremony.”
“This facility is key to advancing the Maine College of Engineering, Computing and Information Science, the University of Maine System and our state,” Malloy said of the facility. “Continuing to increase enrollment in engineering and computing to produce the talent needed by industry is critical to Maine’s economy. The project itself is a jobs-creator and includes UMaine engineering alumni returning to their alma mater to contribute to its design and construction. This facility ushers in a transformation for higher education in Maine.”
“Ferland EEDC will become the heart of engineering education at the University of Maine,” Humphrey said, speaking to the importance of the new facility. “It will help to retain talented Maine students, as well as attract even more from out of state. This talent pool will provide the engineering graduates and new innovations critical to moving Maine’s economy forward.”
The Ferland EEDC will be a three-story building, with laboratory space located on the first floor, mechanical engineering facilities and classrooms on the second floor, and biomedical engineering facilities and classrooms on the third floor. The south entrance of the building will feature outdoor seating spaces, and two story windows to allow for natural light. There will also be an elevated walkway connecting the new Ferland EEDC to the second floor of the neighboring Boardman Hall. The Ferland EEDC will also include a prospective student welcome center, where tours will begin after the construction is completed.
The potential for the Ferland EEDC to become a hub for engineering students is a point of great excitement for current students.
“I am very excited for future students to have access to things like woodworking spaces. I’ve always been interested in that sort of stuff but we’ve never had the resources for it,” Jordan Bessette, a third-year mechanical engineering technology major student said when asked about the opportunities the new facility would bring to potential students. “It’s also going to be good to have a central place for engineering students to convene.”
The construction of the Ferland EEDC is expected to be completed in August of 2022, just in time for the start of the 2022-2023 academic year. The building was designed by WBRC Architects Engineers, based in Bangor, as well as by Ellenzweig of Boston.