An anonymous donor has given $10 million to the University of Maine in Orono for a new engineering building, the largest gift ever by a living donor, university officials said Monday.

The gift is from the family of a graduate of the engineering program at UMaine who has asked not to be identified at this time, UMaine President Susan Hunter said.

The donor’s name will be announced later, and the new building – known as the Engineering Education and Design Center – will be named for the donor.

“This investment builds on the remarkable growth and success of UMaine engineering,” Hunter said.

Since 2001, the undergraduate engineering program has had 70 percent growth in enrollment. Demand was so high in 2016, the program had to turn away students, officials said.

The new building will expand capacity for the program. In the last two years, UMaine has added 10 new faculty members to the program.

“The University of Maine College of Engineering produces two things: graduates who are ready to work and contribute to Maine’s economy, and new ideas and technologies needed to move Maine’s economy forward,” says Dana Humphrey, dean of the College of Engineering.

UMaine has up to a 99 percent placement rate for engineering graduates in careers or graduate school, officials said. The College of Engineering offers 11 bachelor’s degrees, eight master’s and five Ph.D. degrees.

A projection from the university for 2026 estimates Maine will create 810 new engineering jobs and need to replace 1,750 retiring engineers, plus others who leave the workforce, creating approximately 2,560 openings in all. At the same time, Maine is expected to produce 1,300 graduates to work in the state, leaving a shortfall of at least 1,260. Currently about 60 percent of Maine engineering grads stay in the state.

The Legislature approved $50 million toward the estimated $80 million construction cost of the center, which could be as large as 120,000 square feet.

The team of WBRC Architects Engineers, headquartered in Bangor, and Ellenzweig, a Boston-based firm that specializes in classrooms and laboratories for engineers and scientists, is designing the building. Groundbreaking is planned for spring 2020 and completion by fall 2022.

It’s the largest gift by a living donor, Hunter said. A $12 million donation from an estate was the largest gift to UMaine.

The $10 million donation is part of the university’s current $200 million capital campaign, which has raised over $148 million.

 

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