Western North Carolina Section

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WCU Receives State Funding for New Engineering Building, Program Expansion

Western Carolina University was successful in its request for funds for a new engineering facility and program expansion from the North Carolina General Assembly, for the recently approved 2023-2025 biennial state budget.

Earlier this year, WCU identified the expansion of its engineering programs as its top legislative priority, an effort backed by the University of North Carolina System.

“This investment in the expansion of WCU’s engineering programs comes at a crucial and pivotal moment as student demand and industry demand for engineering talent are both rapidly increasing,” said Randy Collins, dean of WCU’s College of Engineering and Technology.

WCU received funding for the replacement of the current engineering building. The total amount authorized for this project is $95.3 million, with $2 million of that total allocated in fiscal year 2024-25 for advance planning.

The budget also allocated funds to expand WCU’s College of Engineering and Technology programming to support robotics, energy, controls, and automation concentrations. The amount allocated is $3.5 million in recurring funds beginning in fiscal year 2023-2024.

“Funding for engineering expansion will allow WCU to meet critical demand in the regional labor market and to serve Western North Carolina to its fullest potential,” WCU Chancellor Kelli R. Brown said. “I’m personally thankful for our legislators from the region who sponsored bills on behalf of WCU during the budget process including Senators Corbin, Hise, and Moffitt, and Representatives Johnson, Gillespie, Clampitt, Pless, and Hardister.”

The new engineering facility and funding will enable expansion for programs and laboratories in high-demand areas, enabling WCU to adapt to evolving technology and industry needs.

“WCU is a catalyst for the growth and investment of technologically oriented businesses and industry in the region and state and educates the next generation of engineering and technology professionals to fill the talent pipeline,” Collins said. “Our faculty and staff work closely with students to address critical challenges facing the industry through partnerships, applied research, and design projects.”

WCU is the only university with an engineering college west of I-77 in North Carolina.

“The funding we have received will change the trajectory of WCU engineering and provide the infrastructure and resources critically needed to provide a 21st-century cutting-edge engineering education for our growing demand of talented engineering students and our industry and business partners,” Collins said.

Source: By Julia Duvall @ Western Carolina University