Senator Ellis Introduces Legislation to Complete UA Engineering Expansion
Appropriation funds upgrade of inadequate and outdated UAA and UAF engineering facilities
JUNEAU – Senator Johnny Ellis (D-Anchorage) introduced SB 40 to provide the final half of the funding to complete the construction of upgraded engineering facilities at the University of Alaska-Anchorage and University of Alaska-Fairbanks. With broad bipartisan and public support, the 27th Alaska Legislature funded the modernization of existing outdated facilities and the site preparation, foundation and super structure for sorely needed new buildings. This appropriation is the final half of the funding necessary to complete the projects at both campuses.
“We have heard from industry time and again about the challenges of recruiting and retaining outside engineers. Completing these projects is a common sense investment that will create more opportunity for our young people to live and work in Alaska” said Senator Johnny Ellis.
A broad coalition of Alaska’s engineering professional organizations and businesses, from construction to resource development, have called for new and upgraded UA engineering facilities. Industry advisory boards for both the UAA and UAF engineering programs have urged the legislature to appropriate the funding necessary to address growing enrollments and inadequate facilities.
Among the many engineering professional organizations urging support for upgrading University of Alaska engineering facilities:
· American Council of Engineering Companies - Alaska Chapter
· Alaska Professional Design Council
· Alaska Society of Professional Engineers
· Institute of Transportation Engineers – Alaska Section
· The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers
“The costs associated with recruiting, relocating, training and properly preparing engineers for work in Alaska, only to have them leave after a few years are staggering. We are urging the Legislature to take action this year to invest in the infrastructure necessary to produce Alaskan grown engineers” said Leverette G. Hoover, Alaska Branch Manager, Siemens Industry Inc.
Alaska faces a growing shortage of qualified engineers. The engineering programs at the University of Alaska-Fairbanks and the University of Alaska-Anchorage are complementary. The University of Alaska Board of Regents has called the UA engineering expansion the No. 1 new construction priority for academic programs. Both UAA and UAF facilities are inadequate, cramped, and out-of-date. Neither engineering building has the special purpose lab space required for modern engineering curricula.