EL PASO, Texas (KVIA) - The University of Texas System Board of Regents approved $70 million in funding for a major new facility at The University of Texas at El Paso that will house its growing research and teaching program in additive manufacturing. The funding also will improve UTEP's test facilities for rocket engines and drones currently located in East El Paso County.
"El Paso/Juárez is the fourth largest manufacturing region in North America," UTEP President Heather Wilson said. "The support of the Regents for this project will help us educate the next generation of engineers and expand the research we are doing in advanced manufacturing."
The Center for Advanced Manufacturing and Aerospace will substantially increase the number of students engaged in advanced manufacturing and aerospace research, with plans to train more than 600 graduate and undergraduate students annually to create unparalleled employment opportunities for students upon graduation.
"UTEP's current advanced manufacturing and aerospace education and research infrastructure is at capacity," said Ryan Wicker, Ph.D., founder of the W.M. Keck Center for 3D Innovation. "This decision by the Board of Regents is a strong testament to the caliber of our research, our technical strength, and the ability to meet the workforce needs of the 21st century."
UTEP is a national leader in additive manufacturing using specialty materials and embedding electronics in 3D-printed materials. The University has completed advanced research in this field during the past decade worth more than $100 million sponsored by NASA, the U.S. Department of Defense, the National Science Foundation and other agencies.
UTEP also conducts significant research work with NASA, the Department of Homeland Security, the U.S. Department of Energy and other agencies on rocket propulsion, unmanned aerial vehicles, spacecraft design and aircraft safety.
The aerospace and manufacturing industries will need more than 10,000 engineers over the next few years just to maintain the current workforce.
The number of engineering students enrolled at UTEP has increased by more than 30% during the past five years, with over 4,300 students enrolled in engineering alone.
Wilson discussed the funding in an interview with ABC-7's Stephanie Valle. You can watch that interview in the video player at the top of this article.