During last week's State of the State Address, Governor Brian Sandoval laid out his budget proposal that included funding that would pay for about half of a new engineering building at the University of Nevada.  The project is estimated to cost $86 million.  If the legislature approves it, the state would pay $41.5 million.

"Engineering is fundamental to the diversification of the economy in this area, and therefore, engineering is growing," Marc Johnson, President of the University of Nevada said. "The students want to be engineers. They are really attracted to the new industries coming to this area."

The 87,000 square-foot building would be four stories, sitting along Evans Avenue.  It would be the eighth building in the engineering complex, offering a gateway on the east side of campus.

The College of Engineering has been the fastest-growing program at the university for three years, and the enrollment has doubled since 2005.  Johnson says the 2,800 students and 87 faculty members have run out of space.  Student growth means 30-40 more staff will be added in the next five years, and the new building would provide state-of-the-art facilities, used for administrative offices, research laboratories and teaching laboratories that would accommodate all five of the college's departments.

"This is going to be the kind of space that supports modern research," Johnson said. "Almost all of our students involve themselves as undergraduates and graduate students in the research."

Johnson says the expansion and student growth is necessary to recruit faculty and students.  With new technical industries moving to Nevada, the building is expected to provide new possibilities for innovation and commercialization, such as autonomous systems and big data, which officials say require modern research infrastructure.

"The kind of industries that are coming to this state are requiring much more high-end, high-tech training so that they can work on development, as well as application and manufacturing," Johnson said.

Sarah Stolte is working on her Master's Degree in Civil Engineering, focusing on the Pavement Engineering Program.  She says the new facility will offer a lot of opportunities for the university and its students.

"They can bring in new students, they can create new labs, have more available classrooms, and I think overall it's just going to be a really great thing for the students," Stolte said.

As the economic activity and industries change in the Silver State, Stolte says the new building will help the university adapt and train students for jobs in Nevada.

"A lot of companies recruit directly from our program," Stolte said. "We learn a lot of really useful things that will be useful when we get out into the field in this program."

Tehman Tariq is a senior, studying Computer Science and Engineering.  While he will graduate long before the building is completed, he likes the direction the university's engineering department is heading, saying the expansion will help close the workforce skill gap.

"I feel like engineering is one of the leading careers that we have and it can help improve us in multiple areas, whether it be computer science, mechanical, electrical, all these different things are helping us push to a better future and more jobs as well," Tariq said.

"I think it's really important, really great for us to have nice facilities and more computers," Bertille DuPont, UNR Senior said.

Along with the state funding, the university would pay $21.5 million, and its donors would fund $23 million.  If approved by the legislature, the university will break ground in the summer of 2018, with an expected completion date in late 2020.  The first classes would likely happen in the spring semester of '21.

"It's an extremely exciting time because more and more students want to study here, so we're growing," Johnson said.

The College of Engineering is the second largest research program at the University of Nevada, trailing the College of Medicine.  Johnson says the new building will raise the bar even more, especially as the tech industry grows.

"They're going to be much higher tech learning laboratories and they'll be laboratories that will attract and retain research faculty that can really work with these industries."