Mercer dedicated its new Science and Engineering Building during a ceremony in the Science and Engineering Building on Nov. 26. United States Sen. Saxby Chambliss, U.S. Rep. Jim Marshall and Logistics Center Commander Maj. Gen. Tom Owen spoke at the event.
Cutline: From left to right, U.S. Sen. Saxby Chambliss, Maj. Gen. Thomas J. Owen, commander of the Warner Robins Air Logistics Center, and U.S. Rep. Jim Marshall were the keynote speakers for the event. Joining them in the celebration were Engineering Dean M. Dayne Aldridge; Dan Nale, vice-president of Mid-Cabin Programs for Gulfstream Aerospace Corp. and chairman of Mercer’s National Engineering Advisory Board, and President William D. Underwood.
For a full video of the event click here.
The School of Engineering, which shares the building with the Department of Physics of the College of Liberal Arts, also celebrated its 22-year educational partnership with the Warner Robins Air Logistics Center, a partnership that helped to create the School of Engineering in 1985.
“We’re very pleased with the possibilities that this facility provides, and is already providing, in engineering for our students and for the men and women at Warner Robins Air Logistics Center,” said Dean M. Dayne Aldridge at the dedication ceremony. “Many of the employees at that center come to this campus for graduate work, and we’re glad to have them as part of our classes.”
The building opened, on schedule and on budget, for classes at the start of fall semester. The two-story building includes more than 55,000-square feet of laboratories, classrooms and project rooms, as well as the state-of-the-art auditorium in which the dedication ceremony was held.
The building dedication was a further celebration of the School’s accomplishments, as well as its history with Robins Air Force Base, which employs more than 25,000 people and is home to the Warner Robins Air Logistics Center, one of only three such centers in the nation. The WR-ALC employs more than 18,000 people, including more 1,300 engineers and is the largest single-site industrial complex in Georgia. The Mercer School of Engineering is the largest provider of engineering graduates to the WR-ALC.
Maj. Gen. Owen noted that the partnership with Mercer is expected to continue to expand as the aging work force at the base retires over the coming years and new engineers are hired. In addition, the new building will continue fill the need not only for new engineers, but also for graduate education and continuing education for existing WR-ALC employees, Owen said.
“It’s an honor for me to be here and take part in this, and I look forward to this just being another step in the long relationship between Robins Air Force Base, Warner Robins-ALC and Mercer University,” he said.
The educational support provided by Mercer helps not only the Base, but the country, Marshall and Chambliss both noted. As international competition and trade increase, the United States needs more engineers, not only in defense, but also in industry, Marshall said. “It’s a combination of contributions that this facility makes, not just to the University, but also to the country, by adding to the supply of engineers that we so desperately need as we move forward in this world that is going to be ever more contentious as far as commerce and trade is concerned, and then to [the Department of Defense] generally, to Air Force Material Command and to Robins specifically,” Marshall said. “So this is a great day, and I’m delighted to be with you, and I look forward to working with you in the future to improve this facility and Robins Air Force Base.”
As economic competitors, such as China and India, continue to increase the number of engineers and scientists, Chambliss said, the United States has to continue to invest in its education system to develop more scientists and engineers, beginning at an early age and continuing through to the university level. The partnership with the WR-ALC also means that Mercer graduates will likely have a job after completing their education, Chambliss said.
Chambliss added, “It is facilities like this one that are going to take the best and brightest that America has to offer and make sure that they have the foundation that is so fundamental for everything we do in America and they’re going to be able to build on that foundation as they go out to the Macons of the world and make sure that they have that foundation that will allow them to inherit the same great country that we all know today and to carry forward as the next generation of leaders.”