DEARBORN – A $1 million donation from Omron, a global leader in automation, will help fund the Omron Robotics and Human Factor Lab at the University Of Michigan-Dearborn’s Engineering Building. Ground breaking for the $90 million, 123,000 square foot building was held last Friday.
Construction will begin in spring 2018. Once completed, the new ELB will include 57,000 square feet of renovation and 66,000 of new construction, consolidating engineering labs and classes in one place for the first time. The project is funded by a $30 million capital outlay from the state of Michigan, bond financing, and corporate, individual and university support.
UM-Dearborn Engineering Dean Tony England said the ELB also will allow his department to use flexible classrooms that can be adapted to the subjects taught now and in the future. He said some 80 percent of UM-Dearborn’s engineering graduates remain in Michigan.
“We are grateful to the Omron Foundation for this historic investment in the future of engineering at UM-Dearborn,” said Daniel Little, chancellor, University of Michigan-Dearborn. “Their support is key to this transformative project, which will advance our academic programs and expand our capacity for premier research and industry partnerships.”
With its expected opening in Summer 2020, the new ELB will transform engineering education, the College of Engineering and Computer Science. It will include cutting-edge teaching labs and modern classrooms designed to facilitate entrepreneurial problem solving, encourage multidisciplinary cooperation in the context of 21st-century engineering instruction and provide students with new collaboration and project spaces.
“We’re very excited to partner with University of Michigan-Dearborn on their endeavor to further the learning and advancement of future engineers. Students will be learning on the most advanced robotic technologies to further their problem solving abilities,” said Robb Black, president and CEO, Omron Automation, Americas.
In addition to student education, the ELB will provide opportunities for pioneering research partnerships with industry. Leading-edge laboratories include power engineering, cybersecurity, human factors and robotics, and bioengineering. The new facility also will allow for expanded K-12 and community outreach efforts, with a focus on women and minorities.
Designed by SmithGroupJJR Detroit, the $90 million project was initially approved in June 2016. One third of project funding will come through the state of Michigan’s capital outlay budget, one third from bond financing, with the remainder coming from individual, corporate and university support. Last year, the university announced a $1.25 million donation from University of Michigan Regent Ronald N. Weiser and Eileen L. Weiser.
“Through the Omron Foundation, we are delighted to have the opportunity to support this amazing innovation investment at the University of Michigan-Dearborn,” said Nigel Blakeway, managing executive officer, OMRON Corporation, chairman and CEO, OMRON Management Center of America, and president of the OMRON Foundation.
“At Omron, we continue to make revolutionary new developments in human robotics harmonization. With the vision and talented research teams ever evolving at UM-Dearborn, we are committed to not just this engineering lab, but the scholarship programs to support future generations of engineers, fortunate enough to study in this impressive new environment,” he said.