Michigan Tech seeks state funding for new health, engineering building

HOUGHTON — Michigan Technological University’s Board of Trustees Friday approved a five-year state capital outlay plan and capital project request that includes a new engineering and health technologies building and student maker spaces.

Phase 1 of the H-STEM Engineering and Health Technologies Complex is the top-ranked project. It is expected to cost $44.7 million, of which state funds would cover $29.7 million and Michigan Tech would be expected to contribute $15 million, about a third of the total cost.

The plan and fiscal year 2019 project request will be submitted to the state of Michigan, as required by law. This is the first step the University must take to request funding for construction and renovations.

If approved for construction planning by the State, phase one — which would include drafting blueprints and using state funds to seek additional funding for naming opportunities — would start in 2018.

H-STEM stands for Health, Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics. The complex would support a variety of educational programs that apply engineering and science to health and other problems related to the human condition.

Michigan Tech President Glenn Mroz said the university’s unique technological niche puts it in an ideal position to contribute to human-centered research, development and education by developing therapeutic devices, sensors, instruments, preventive strategies and a health technologies-related workforce.

The complex will permit teams of researchers and students from any Michigan Tech department or center to work together in flexible lab spaces with shared equipment.

Human-centered research at Tech is already supported by the American Heart and Lung Associations, the Gerber Foundation, the Portage Health Foundation, the National Institutes of Health, and the National Science Foundation, and other entities.

“Current economic projections indicate that demand for technological innovations related to the way that humans interact with technology, as well as human health, is going to grow substantially,” Mroz said.

In other business, the board:

* Voted to award honorary Doctor of Philosophy degrees to James J. Parm and Robert G. White. Parm, a Michigan Tech alumnus, will give the Commencement address in December. He was president and CEO of Bethesda, Md.-based Stratos Global Corp., a satellite communications provider, until his retirement in 2013. White is a long-time trustee of the John Edgar McAllister Foundation. He has been instrumental in continuing the late McAllister’s commitment to providing scholarships for Canadian citizens who want to study at Michigan Tech. He was also a key person in the foundation’s decision to support the construction of the John Edgar McAllister Welcome Center, which now houses the Admissions Office — often the place that prospective students and their families visit when coming to campus for the first time.
* Heard a report that research funding and sponsored programs received during FY17 totaled $59.7 million, $8 million more than the previous year. This is an all-time high for the university.
* Heard a report that $5 million was raised by Advancement and Alumni Engagement from July 1 through Aug. 31. That is 14 percent of the university’s fundraising goal for the fiscal year that runs through June 30. Also, the annual faculty and staff campaign kicked off Sept. 18. Last year, 28.8 percent of employees participated, up from 26.6 percent the previous year and 22.3 percent the year before that. The goal is to continue to increase participation.
* Learned Michigan Tech and the Michigan Tech Fund received a clean report from their external auditor, Andrews Hooper Pavlik.
* Was informed that six Michigan Tech labs have volunteered to host researchers displaced by recent hurricanes. They include David Shonnard, Chemical Engineering; Rudy Luck, Chemistry; Myounghoon “Philart” Jeon, Cognitive & Learning Sciences; Paul Sanders, Materials Science & Engineering; Zhangping You, Civil & Environmental Engineering; and Guy Meadows, Great Lakes Research Center.
* Heard a report on the progress of the presidential search. Mroz announced in April that he would step down on or after June 30, 2018 and return to the faculty. Mroz, the third longest serving president among public universities in Michgian, became Michigan Tech’s ninth president in 2004 after serving four years as daen of Tech’s School of Forest Resources and Environmental Science.

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