Hundreds of Jackson State University students, faculty, staff and supporters gathered in front of the university’s School of Engineering Building Thursday, Sept. 9, to celebrate the grand opening of the campus’ newest academic facility.

“We strongly felt that a school of engineering should be in the capital city at Jackson State University,” said U.S. Representative Bennie Thompson of Mississippi, who was instrumental in helping Jackson State secure funding for the $20 million building. “This investment is a down payment on the future.”

The celebration was held during 2010 Advancing Minorities’ Interest in Engineering (AMIE) conference hosted by Jackson State University. The AMIE conference brings together business leaders, engineering professionals and engineering school leaders from 14 Historically Black Colleges and Universities to help businesses diversify America’s workforce in preparation for the challenges of the 21st century and beyond.

Launched in 2000, Jackson State’s School of Engineering enrolls some 500 undergraduate and graduate students. The school offers bachelor’s degrees in computer science, civil engineering, computer engineering, electrical engineering and telecommunications engineering.

The telecommunication engineering program is one of two such accredited undergraduate programs in the nation. Master’s degrees are offered in computer science and engineering with concentrations in civil engineering, environmental engineering, geological engineering, computer engineering, electrical engineering, telecommunications engineering, coastal engineering and computational engineering. The school offers the only engineering program in Mississippi’s capital.

“Jackson State is very fortunate to have built a brand new, 90,000 square foot facility just for engineering,” said Mark G. Hardy, dean of JSU’s College of Science, Engineering, and Tech. “It’s not surprising that the school is growing very rapidly,” Hardy said. “The location is a factor and the quality of the program. We have excellent researchers here who are at the cutting edge in the areas of robotics, cyber security, data mining and high-performance computing.”

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