7/20/06 Contact: Roy Summerford, 334/844-9999 (summero@auburn.edu)
David Granger, 334/844-9999 (grangdm@auburn.edu)


AUBURN - An engineering center designed to place Auburn University among the nation’s leaders in 21st century transportation technology will bear the name of U.S. Sen. Richard Shelby when Phase I of the Shelby Center for Engineering Technology opens in November 2007.

The AU Board of Trustees recently voted to name the nearly 200,000-square-foot engineering center for Alabama’s senior senator in recognition of his efforts to secure $65 million in federal funding for the $108 million, two-stage project. Shelby is especially deserving of the honor, said interim AU President Ed Richardson, because the senator’s successful efforts gave AU at least a decade’s head start on development of a technology center that will be among the most advanced in the nation.

“We are extremely indebted to Sen. Shelby for his leadership in securing funding for both phases of one of the most ambitious building projects in Auburn history,” said Richardson. “Sen. Shelby has displayed a clear sense of the importance of engineering technology to the people of Alabama, and he has encouraged us every step of the way to fully develop our capabilities in that regard. His vision and hard work in Congress helped make all this possible.”

Richardson added, “This is going to change the face of Auburn University, both physically, because the buildings will be truly magnificent, and also functionally, because the Shelby Center will greatly impact the research aspect of Auburn’s mission.”

With a mission of advancing technology in a variety of disciplines, including those vital to the automotive and other transportation industries in Alabama, the Shelby Center will be the largest building complex in the Samuel Ginn College of Engineering. The center, with a wide array of new instructional and research technologies, will play an important role in the state’s economic development and is central to the college’s goal of engineering leadership for Alabama and the nation throughout the 21 century, said Engineering Dean Larry Benefield.

“The technology center is the cornerstone of our strategic plan for the college to bring our programs to the next level,” said Benefield. “The buildings will provide the facilities necessary to expand our research efforts while ensuring that our undergraduate programs remain among the best in the nation.”

He continued, “Auburn University is committed to providing the facilities that will advance the technologies which fuel Alabama's economic engine. I believe that Senator Shelby’s support for the transportation technology center is testament to the quality of our existing programs and of their incredible potential.”

The Shelby Center, located between the Lowder Business Building and the Textile Engineering Building on Magnolia Avenue, will consist of a central structure with two L-shaped wings and two stand-alone buildings wrapped around a central courtyard. Research and teaching in the center will involve faculty from a variety of engineering disciplines.

Phase I, currently under construction, will house research laboratories, classrooms, lecture halls and offices for the Department of Computer Science and Software Engineering and the Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering, as well as Engineering Administration. The second phase will begin shortly after completion of the current phase in late 2007 and will house the Department of Mechanical Engineering and general and specialized laboratories.

Auburn University is a comprehensive research institution with more than 23,000 students and 6,500 faculty and staff. Ranked among the top 50 public universities nationally, Auburn is Alabama's largest educational institution, offering more than 230 undergraduate, graduate and doctoral degree programs.

(Contributed by Roy Summerford.)