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Ground broken on engineering complex

Oct. 30, 2012 @ 12:37 AM

HUNTINGTON -- Foul weather did not prevent Marshall University from "breaking ground" Monday on its new $50 million engineering complex.

Marshall just brought the party inside and did a little dirt-turning on stage at the Joan C. Edwards Performing Arts Center, in celebration of the much-anticipated engineering facility.

The Arthur Weisberg Family Applied Engineering Complex will be four stories and 145,000 square feet of state-of-the-art educational space, located on 3rd Avenue between the Robert C. Byrd Biotechnology Science Center and the Arthur Weisberg Family Engineering Laboratories. Expected to be completed in 28 months, it will be one of the largest buildings on campus, housing students in the university's engineering program, which now has 600 students.

The building is named for Weisberg -- who founded State Electric Supply Co. and is now president of Arthur's Enterprises -- and his family, who made a significant financial pledge toward the project. In a release, he said his reason for making the contribution was simple: "I love Huntington and I know this gift will make a lasting difference."

His wife, Joan Weisberg, joined in Monday's celebration and turned some dirt along with Marshall University President Stephen Kopp, master of ceremonies A. Michael Perry, and others.

"We are thrilled that Art, Joan and other members of the Weisberg family could join us for this wonderful celebration of this very significant investment in the future of Marshall University, to which they have supported so earnestly," Kopp said in a release. "We are very proud and honored that this spectacular building will bear the Weisberg family name."

The new facility will foster collaborative research, along with interdisciplinary and integrated learning opportunities in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics, he said.

According to Wael Zatar, dean of Marshall's College of Information Technology and Engineering, the new building will offer the educational environment necessary for substantial development in various specialties, such as mechanical engineering, electrical engineering, bio-engineering, environmental engineering, transportation engineering and structural engineering.

Its groundbreaking was a defining moment for Marshall University, said West Virginia Sen . Robert Plymale, D-Wayne, who was the lead sponsor of 2004 legislation that led to the restart of Marshall's engineering program.

"It's one of the most satisfying projects I've been involved in," he said. "It's one that I've worked on, literally, for 20 years."

It's also a "marvelous example of a public-private partnership," said Perry, who has known Weisberg for many years. In today's world, engineers are critically important in driving the economy, he said, and the new facility will hopefully attract outstanding students to Huntington, who will stay after they graduate and contribute to Huntington's revitalization.

"The Weisberg family investment is a critical investment in the future of Huntington," Perry said. "...There are an awful lot of people who have made an awful lot of money and couldn't wait to retire and move to Florida. Art is a wonderful example of someone who continues to work. He's just a great inspiration."



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