Over the past few weeks, Gov. Charlie Baker and the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center (MLSC) have been awarding $39 million worth of grants to universities and high schools across the state to promote and improve biological sciences and research, with UMass Lowell being one of the recipients.
Of the awarded grants, UMass Lowell received the highest amount at $5 million. With this money, UMass Lowell intends to renovate Perry Hall on North Campus to better accommodate all engineering majors, particularly the biomedical engineers.
According to The Dean of the Francis College of Engineering Dr. John Hartman, “This year we launched our new biomedical engineering undergraduate program, so we admitted our first class of students this year, and come their third year they will be doing intense lab work as part of the program. So we had a need to set up new labs for the new program.”
Perry Hall, formerly referred to as “engineering hall” has not had any renovations for decades. “Built in 1954, if you’ve ever strolled through that building, it’s fair to say it hasn’t gotten a lot of love and attention since 1954. It’s got to be used though,” says Hartman, “There was a fire on the fourth floor many years ago, which has rendered that floor unusable.
The proposal for the grant from MLSC is specifically geared toward advancing the biomedical engineering program at the university. According to Vice Chancellor Julie Chen “The Mass Life Sciences Center is a quasi-public entity in the state that helps to build up the life sciences sector in the state.” This means the MLSC awarded this grant for the biomedical program. However, with the money, Perry Hall will obtain new teaching and research labs to be used by all engineering students.
According to Hartman, the estimates for the complete renovation of Perry Hall are projected to be $48 million, which means about $12 million per floor. This grant not only helps kick start the renovations, but it also serves as an opportunity for other companies and investors to support the reconstruction and development of the biomedical engineering program.
Perry Hall will begin being reconstructed in May 2017 and is expected to be fully operational by May of 2019. Hartman assures that faculty members and Facilities are working closely together to relocate all labs and classrooms in the building so students are not affected.