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UND breaks ground on Collaborative Energy Complex

The Billings County Pioneer of Medora, North Dakota

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The University of North Dakota broke ground on July 20 on the Collaborative Energy Complex — a new facility that will open doors for students and faculty, and which itself will become the new front door to UND's College of Engineering & Mines.

The nearly 37,000-plus square-foot Collaborative Energy Complex (CEC) will be set on the southeastern part of campus between Leonard Hall and Upson Hall I. The new CEC will connect the two existing facilities, forming an engineering education and research complex on campus that will include Upson Hall 1 & II, Harrington Hall and the nearby Wilson M. Laird Core and Sample Library.

"What a great day for the University and the College of Engineering & Mines. I commend Dean Hesham ElRewini and his colleagues for their initiative and vision for the Collaborative Energy Complex, which should provide immediate opportunities for students and long-term solutions for the future of North Dakota and the nation," UND President Robert Kelley said in a prepared statement. "This facility and the way it was funded — almost entirely with donations and with important funding from the North Dakota Higher Education Challenge Fund — is an excellent example of a successful private-sector partnerships — the kind that UND has fostered across our academic and research enterprises."

ElRewini stressed that the new facility — as its name suggests — will provide students and faculty with a place to interact with each other as well as with colleagues from other units on campus and beyond.

"More than just a building to house programs, CEC is about people, about collaboration, about innovation, and about building bridges with industry. It will provide students and faculty with a place to interact with each other as well as with colleagues from other colleges on campus and with industry," said ElRewini. "CEC will provide our students and researchers with access to cutting edge laboratories and equipment. Students' educational experience will be enriched through industry interactions, personalized mentorship, professional development opportunities, and outreach activities."

"In 2013, Governor Dairymple and I set out to jumpstart private donations to North Dakota colleges and universities by moving the North Dakota Higher Education Challenge Fund initiative through the Legislature and with their help, we did just that," said NOrth Dakota Lieutenant Governor Drew Wrigley. "The Challenge Fund grant review committee awarded $29 million to our schools in the last biennium thanks to the generous donations made by individuals and businesses. Because of those donations and Challenge Fund dollars. North Dakota colleges and universities have been able to invest almost $90 million in their campuses and programs."

"Hess Corporation is proud to have committed $5 million over five years to support the UND Collaborative Energy Complex," said Gerbert Schoonman, vice president of the Hess's Bakken operations in North Dakota. "This investment in higher education is part of our commitment to make a positive impact on the communities where we do business and develop a local workforce to support the growing energy sector in the state. We hope this new facility will play a key role in helping to build rewarding careers that in turn will further strengthen the state economy for years to come."

Robert "Bob" Solberg, a 1969 UND civil engineering alumnus, was the first private major donor for the construction of the CEC. Solberg, now living in Houston, spent 45 years in the petroleum industry, 33 of those years were with Texaco. When he retired in 2002, he was serving as the company's president of commercial development.

Steve L. Burian, a UND alum who is chief executive officer at AE2S (Advanced Engineering and Environmental Services Inc.), which is also a donor, added, "We are excited to be a part of this strategic project for UND's College of Engineering and Mines. A significant number of employees who have contributed to the success of AE2S are graduates of the UND engineering programs, and the College is critical to our future success. We are honored to play a role in helping cultivate the next generation of engineering talent."

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Original Publication Date: July 30, 2015

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