University receives $12 million for addition and renovation of Engineering building

Sidney Lu, University alumnus and CEO of Taiwan based Foxconn Interconnect Technology, donated $12 million to create a new learning and innovation center in the College of Engineering. The new center will be part of major renovation of the Mechanical Engineering Building.

Construction for the Sidney Lu Center for Learning and Innovation will begin in early 2017. The 36,000 square foot addition will be built on the southeast side of the Mechanical Engineering Building. It will feature “active learning” classrooms which will foster collaborative learning and studying, as well as state of the art tools and technology, according to a University press release.

Lu donated $5 million to University in 2013 to create the Tungchao Julia Lu Professorship in Mechanical Science and Engineering, named after his mother. Lu, who graduated in 1981 with degrees in mechanical engineering and mathematics, said he has visited the campus regularly since 2011. Lu said he noticed the Mechanical Engineering Building is in disrepair and wanted to help mend it.

Lu said it is important for the education of engineering students to move beyond a traditional setting, especially in the Internet age where information is so readily available. Currently, the Mechanical Engineering Building, which was built in 1950, is structured like a standard University hall with traditional classrooms and offices. Lu said the field requires more modern spaces that inspire students and allow them to collaborate.

The University already planned a smaller renovation to the building to fix inefficient mechanical systems, said Placid Ferreira, head of the mechanical science and engineering department. The department along with the provost’s office and the Urbana-Champaign campus allotted $11 million to address these concerns and remodel some classrooms and labs. Architectural plans for the new project will be flexible in order to accommodate future renovations or another possible addition, Ferreira said.

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