The Connect NC Bond includes a total of $160 million for two NC State projects that support agriculture and engineering, critical drivers of economic development and jobs across North Carolina. The bond will fund major projects to enhance academic, research and outreach opportunities through the construction of the Engineering Oval and the Plant Sciences Initiative buildings on NC State’s Centennial Campus.
In total, $75 million of the bond revenue would comprise about half of the cost for an innovative engineering building, with the rest being raised from private funds. The new 227,000 square-foot Engineering Oval would house the Department of Civil, Construction and Environmental Engineering, and the Edward P. Fitts Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering. The facility would include more than 100 classrooms and state-of-the-art laboratories to advance research excellence in key areas including: biomanufacturing, advanced manufacturing, rapid prototyping, health systems in engineering, transportation systems and others.
Another $85 million from the bond would be put toward construction of a new world-leading plant sciences building, again with the remaining funds being raised from private sources. Built on the focus of collaboration and innovation, the 190,000 square-foot Plant Sciences Initiative building would incorporate key features to make it the premier interdisciplinary plant sciences research center in the nation, including: faculty labs and offices, plant processing laboratory for integration with the Golden Leaf Biomanufacturing Training and Education Center, seminar and classroom space, startup company suites, an Atrium collaborative space and more.
In addition to support from the bond, it is important to note that NC State has committed to raise nearly $145 million to complete these two critical projects.
Why are these particular projects important to NC State?
“NC State has one of the largest and most respected engineering programs in the nation, with more than 9,000 students enrolled in graduate and undergraduate programs ranging from nuclear engineering to computer science. The new Engineering Oval building will enhance the university’s ability to continue to attract and support the world’s best engineering students and faculty, and help drive the economy in North Carolina. The building will include more than 100 classrooms and state-of-the-art laboratories to advance research excellence.
NC State is also a national leader in agricultural research and education, including plant sciences. The Plant Sciences Initiative building will use an interdisciplinary systems approach in a world-class research facility to increase crop yields, diversify nutrition, improve sustainability and extend growing seasons. The complex incorporates key features to make it the premier interdisciplinary plant sciences education and research center in the nation.
Both the Engineering Oval and Plant Science Initiative will enable NC State to continue advancing educational and research excellence, and driving the state’s 21st-century economy.”
How do the selected projects meet NC State’s stated educational goals?
“Both the Engineering Oval and Plant Sciences Initiative will advance the master plan of NC State's Centennial Campus, a unique, partnership-driven research park environment that catalyzes entrepreneurship and innovation. These new buildings will be in close proximity to industry and government facilities that will foster and facilitate innovation in research and education through partnership opportunities, and better enable faculty and students to address our state’s and nation’s greatest challenges.
The Engineering Oval is the crucial next step in the College of Engineering's move to Centennial Campus, providing critical infrastructure that allows faculty members and students to leverage the power of convergence across disciplines in an atmosphere unmatched anywhere in the nation.
Demand for engineering and computer science degrees has never been higher, and in the past 10 years alone engineering undergraduate enrollment at NC State has grown by 22 percent, and graduate enrollment has more than doubled. The high-tech economy of North Carolina and the nation demands a steady flow of engineering graduates to maintain the nation's leadership in a global economy. The Engineering Oval will help meet that demand.
The Plant Sciences Initiative, in partnership with the state Department of Agriculture, provides an unsurpassed educational, research and outreach opportunity for College of Agriculture and Life Sciences students and faculty, as well as for the state of North Carolina. The Plant Sciences Initiative will be based on an interdisciplinary systems approach resulting in plant scientists collaborating with experts in fields such as engineering, economics, biology and marketing, and the focus of the research will encompass all aspects of potential need.
North Carolina’s agriculture and biosciences assets, concentrated in a new world-class interdisciplinary research complex, will lead to greater educational and career opportunities for students, as well as increased crop yields, diversification, sustainability and extended growing seasons that will help advance our state’s largest industry.”
What impact will completion of the projects have beyond the campus?
“The Plant Sciences Initiative building will support and enhance agribusiness, the No. 1 sector in North Carolina’s economy, at $78 billion per year. Every $1 spent on agricultural research in North Carolina returns $19.90 in economic benefit to the state. In addition, over the next 25 years, 84 percent of U.S. agricultural jobs are projected to be in the plant sciences disciplines. The Plant Sciences Initiative will further fuel our state’s economy and create solutions for feeding the world.
Engineering at NC State is a powerful driver of economic impact for North Carolina and the nation. NC State’s engineering graduates not only dominate the state’s highly skilled workforce at companies such as Cree, SAS and IBM, they also create high-paying jobs by developing new technologies, launch innovative companies and bring cutting-edge products to market. NC State’s College of Engineering is critical in attracting businesses and industries to North Carolina.”
What other benefits of the bond passage would you like to discuss?
“The Connect NC Bond would provide critical support for North Carolina’s university system, community colleges, National Guard, agriculture, state parks, water and sewer systems and more. The bond will fund projects in 76 counties but its impact will benefit every area of North Carolina. Because of the state’s superior financial standing, passage of the bond will not result in a tax increase.
More than 2/3 of the bond would go to fund critical improvements in higher education. This includes $980 million for capital projects that focus on STEM education, medical sciences and business for the 17 UNC System campuses, along with $350 million to fund long-needed upgrades to modernize the state’s 58 community colleges.
At NC State, improvements funded by the bond would provide a shot in the arm for two of North Carolina’s most powerful economic drivers – agriculture and engineering – and enhance educational and research opportunities for North Carolina students for generations to come.”