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Mississippi State University

New $30 million civil and environmental facility at MSU to recognize alumnus Richard Rula

Richard Rula

Richard Rula

By BECKY GILLETTE 

The new $30-million Mississippi State University Civil and Environmental Engineering Complex Building will be named in honor of alumnus Richard Rula, a member of the MSU Foundation Board and of the Dean’s Advisory Council in the Bagley College of Engineering who has made a very generous contribution to the project.

“Rula has been an involved and loyal supporter of MSU for many years and his recent gift, which will ensure our ability to continue providing an exceptional educational experience, is deserving of this recognition,” said Bennett Evans, director of development, MSU James Worth Bagley College of Engineering.

Alumni and friends of the university have been asked to contribute half the cost of the $30-million complex, with the other half coming from state and university resources. Evans said because during this campaign supporters have responded generously with a wide range of gifts and commitments, MSU is close to achieving the fundraising goal.

“We have received several other substantial gifts that have significantly impacted the fund,” Evans said. “These include Kelly Gene Cook, Sr., Foundation of Jackson, Mr. and Mrs. Larry A. Cooley of Brandon, Eutaw Construction in Aberdeen, Mr. and Mrs. Carl Ray Furr of Jackson, Mr. and Mrs. David Machado of Gulfport, Mr. and Mrs. William Mitchell of Gulfport, Pickering, Inc. in Memphis and Flowood, and Waggoner Engineering, Inc. of Jackson.”

Evans said they are grateful that their alumni and friends have taken such pride in upholding the success of the university. “All of the contributions from our supporters will help provide greater learning opportunities and we look forward to sharing those accomplishments with them,” he said.

MSU engineering programs have experienced tremendous growth in enrollment over the last decade,

“Coincident with this is a corresponding growth in the level of research and outreach activities within the James Worth Bagley College of Engineering,” said Dr. Dennis Truax, department head of Civil and Environmental Engineering. “This building is part of the ongoing efforts to expand and renovate the instructional, research and administrative facilities to accommodate the growth while providing a world-class education and maintaining a top-ranked research program in the college.”

Truax said the new Civil and Environmental Engineering Complex Building will be instrumental in accommodating the expanding student population by providing state-of-the-art instructional and laboratory facilities.

“It will also allow an increasingly positive experience as students can fully engage in instructional research experiences,” Truax said. “The complex will promote innovation and creativity by providing adaptive spaces for faculty and students to collaborate on vital research and engage in creative educational endeavors.  The updated technology will also further support the global distance education program, which is ranked one of the best in the country. These amenities are a direct response to the growing demand for more highly advanced and diverse teaching and learning environments, and will stimulate valuable solutions for greater global sustainability and efficiency.”

Truax said technology continues to accelerate today’s industry and MSU’s commitment to the new building project shows dedication to staying ahead of the curve through advancements in education and research.

“Similarly, the learning styles and interests of today’s students demand creative alternatives for student engagement,” Truax said. “Students need more than traditional classroom instruction to be successful. Service learning, research creativity and entrepreneurial opportunities allow these young scholars to find a passion for the engineering profession and their careers. The James Worth Bagley College of Engineering is committed to providing students with innovative and collaborative learning opportunities that address real-world issues.  This helps ensure our graduates are at the apex of 21st century engineers. This new state-of-the-art building will allow us the necessary space to adapt to meet modern needs through the application of the latest technology and information.”

As a land-grant institution, MSU is charged with improving the quality of life within the state and nation. Truax said in efforts to discover the most beneficial solutions, support for intensive, ongoing research is essential.

“Without provision for efficient facilities and resources, the influence and extent of our work would be far less,” he said.

The Civil and Environmental Engineering Complex will include several innovative, unique research spaces that can be efficiently adapted to the research needs of today and tomorrow. The research wing of the complex will be designed to respond to a wide range of investigation supporting cutting edge technology and economic development activities in the region.  The cornerstone of the facility, a 9,000-square foot high bay infrastructure laboratory, will support research and development in the areas of building materials, soil mechanics, water resources management, advanced construction processes, and structural system innovation.

“The new facility will allow expansion of current research and the pursuit of research not currently possible do to facility limitations,” Truax said. “Examples of current research includes developing alternative roadway and construction materials which are more economical and sustainable, using artificial intelligence to optimize traffic flow and increase passenger safety, improving our understanding of geotechnical mechanics during dynamic events like earthquakes and floods, minimizing the impact on watersheds and water supplies from natural and manmade pollutants, adapting waste treatment methods to produce energy while improving environmental quality, and devising changes in building design to improve survivability during tornadic events.”

Current issues often motivate the research conducted within MSU’s facilities. Truax said they persistently build and test new concepts that can lead to revolutionary developments.  Examples of work in development include sequestration of carbon dioxide and wastes from power generation using economical and environmentally sustainable processes, adapting connected vehicle data to increase highway capacity and safety, and improving the understanding of the water-energy-transportation infrastructure nexus which impacts urban life and increases demands for resources.

The new Civil and Environmental Engineering Complex is designed to house more than 72,000 square feet of classrooms.  The complex will also include a large auditorium, distance education and advanced technology instructional space, dedicated laboratory space for research and teaching, student team design rooms, administrative and student offices, conference rooms and a library. Other features include student gathering spaces, secure student project laboratories, and student organization space.

The facility is expected to be available for use in 2017.

For information about contributing to the new complex or the Bagley College in general, contact development director Bennett Evans at 662-325-0386 or bevans@bagley.msstate.edu.

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