A building that was “designed to complement and expand upon the existing expertise and capabilities of the engineering facilities we now have” officially opened on West Virginia University’s Evansdale Campus.

The Advanced Engineering Research Building features learning spaces and laboratories where students and faculty from all disciplines can “come together to solve the technical problems of today and tomorrow,” said Gene Cilento, Glen H. Hiner Dean of the Statler College of Engineering and Mineral Resources. “In short, you will see the future of engineering.”

Designed by Burt Hill/Stantec and constructed by Massaro Corporation, AERB features 63,000 square feet of flexible and environmentally safe laboratory and research space to the Statler College, as well as an 8,000 square foot clean room to meet the needs of high-technology learning and discovery in the new millennium. Offices, classrooms, a learning center and space for graduate students occupies 29,000 square feet of the building.

“To the leadership of West Virginia University – President Gordon Gee, Joyce McConnell and members of the Board of Governors: you had a vision for the Evansdale Campus,” Cilento said. “Today, one more piece of that puzzle is complete. We are delighted to be a part of this important transformation.”

President Gee noted the facility is more than just a brick and mortar structure, calling it a sanctuary for ideas and innovations that will fuel the future of West Virginia University.

“Students and faculty from across all disciplines will unite under this one roof to solve the problems of our day,” Gee continued. “Problems ranging from energy, security, water, science, technology, the list goes on. This facility fits perfectly into our land-grant mission, because the research conducted within these walls will benefit a greater good.”

Statler College advisory committee chair person Dianne Anderson concurred, noting WVU has a tradition of greatness that can only grow in this new facility.

“Engineering anywhere is a very expensive program to run,” Anderson said. “To gain the trust from the investors that backed this building gives these students what they really must have to graduate: the fundamentals and maximum experience from their education in advanced classrooms.”

Remembering a story shared by his father, Thirimachos Bourlai, assistant professor of computer science and electrical engineering, compared the faculty/student relationship to the ancient Greek story of Diagoras of Rhodes.

“We, as faculty, are like Diagoras, and our students are like his two sons,” Bourlai said. “We need to be working hard with our students to prepare them for the real world. To work with them while being respectful, understanding and patient as they are to us.

“I am so proud to have worked with so many students – as teacher and mentor but also as one who learns from them,” said Bourlai. “I have tried my best to be caring, dedicated and supportive to all students I have worked with and this has been the philosophy that helped me achieve better collaborations, and play a small part in the continuous growth and prosperity of this college.”

Those collaborations are already apparent to graduate student John Lucas, who noted that AERB “provides another area for students to go study and meet between classes as well as perform important research.”