As I write to you this fall, after years of planning and hard work, construction is now underway on the new William N. Pennington Engineering Building. This new building will be transformative for our College and will provide much-needed teaching and office space as well as state-of-the-art laboratory facilities for our cutting-edge research programs. We broke ground on this 100,000 square foot building this summer, and the building is scheduled to open in 2020. I would like to thank Governor Brian Sandoval and the Nevada Legislature for helping to fund this building; President Marc Johnson and the University as well as the Board of Regents for supporting this critical capital project; and our donors, advisory board, alumni and friends who have been instrumental in helping us reach this point.
This year, the College continues to be the fastest growing College by having the largest entering freshman class. I am also pleased to announce that two new interdisciplinary minors launched this fall. The minor in manufacturing quality, which was developed with industry input, allows students from any engineering major to gain skills in quality control and manufacturing processes. The minor in big data gives students the technical and theoretical skills to work with the increasing amount of data generated across industries. Interdisciplinary minors such as these are one way the College aims to be responsive to the needs of industry and to ensure that our graduates are equipped with the skills today's employers are looking for.
As we work to equip our graduates for the global engineering economy, we have also made great strides over the past few years in growing our engineering exchange program, which provides students with opportunities to study at top technical universities around the world. We have expanded our offerings through partnerships with new universities and more flexible summer research and coursework options, and our students are increasingly taking advantage of these opportunities. Engineering is a global field, and these exchange programs provide critical cultural exposure for our students.
In this issue of our magazine, we highlight a number of our research programs, including pavement engineering and science, unmanned autonomous systems, advanced manufacturing, and engineering education. A number of the articles in this issue also pay special attention to efforts within the College to bring engineering to a wider audience. Much of this work revolves around our program in engineering education, which hired its first full-time faculty member four years ago, after many years of work building outreach and education programs.
Many of our faculty from around the College are passionate about bringing engineering to our K-12 community, whether that is through local partnerships, summer camps here on campus or collaborations with the Washoe County School District. Other faculty are working to expand access to engineering among college students, supporting young women, first-generation college students and students from underrepresented populations who want to explore engineering as a career path. Finally, our researchers are dedicated to making sure technological advances benefit all of society through research designed to develop accessible, inclusive technology. This work to expand access to engineering is a critical part of all aspects of our mission as a College, and I hope you will join me in supporting these efforts.
Dean of Engineering