President Fenves, UT officials break ground on new Engineering Building

Austin Martinez

UT officials celebrated the ceremonial groundbreaking of the new Gary L. Thomas Energy Engineering Building Thursday evening.

UT President Gregory Fenves and Sharon Wood, Cockrell School of Engineering dean, gave speeches and unveiled the building site at the Ernest Cockrell Jr. Building Plaza in front of a crowd of dozens of people. The building will open in 2021 and serve as a multidisciplinary facility where mechanical, petroleum and chemical engineering students, staff and researchers can collaborate on energy-related research projects, Wood said.

“Today marks another monumental step forward for the Cockrell School of Engineering and for our great university as we officially break ground for what will be known as the Gary L. Thomas Energy Engineering Building,” Fenves said. “This truly is an investment in the future of the energy industry and, hence, the future of the state of Texas.”

Wood said the building will foster a strong community within the engineering school. 

“The Energy Engineering Building represents our vision of bringing together thought leaders from multiple disciplines in an effort to overcome society’s most complex energy challenges,” Wood said. “When the Energy Engineering Building opens in 2021, it will elevate the Cockrell School to even greater heights, enabling us to improve what is already one of the top engineering programs in the U.S. and creating more opportunities for our students and faculty to change the world.” 


Civil engineering junior Darshan Patel said researching in the new building will give students more confidence when they enter their professional fields.

“(The building) will allow undergraduate students to have undergraduate research opportunities that should help open people’s views on what they can do in the field,” Patel said. “Professors being able to work with students is extremely beneficial because they can contribute to making something that will impact other fields and the world as well.”

Christine Lin, Student Engineering Council president, said the building will encourage students to work together to solve global energy issues.

“As students, we want more multidisciplinary experience, and when the EEB opens its doors in two years, it will inspire old and new ideas and collaborative real-world solutions,” mechanical engineering senior Lin said. “The EEB will bring students together and form friendships that never would have been made possible otherwise, friendships that will help them for the rest of their lives.”