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Ground broken for new UMD science building

University of Minnesota President Eric Kaler speaks at the groundbreaking ceremonies for the new Chemistry and Advanced Material Science building at UMD on Tuesday. (Clint Austin / / 2
Led by UMD Chancellor Lendley Black (center), dignitaries break ground for the new Chemistry and Advanced Material Science building at the University of Duluth Minnesota on Tuesday morning. (Clint Austin / 2 / 2

The University of Minnesota Duluth broke ground Tuesday for its long-awaited, $42 million Chemistry and Advanced Material Science building.

University, local and state officials gathered to throw the ceremonial first shovelfuls of dirt on the site where the CAMS building will be constructed — Lot B, across University Drive from the Darland Administration Building.

Those on hand included UMD Chancellor Lendley Black, U of M President Eric Kaler, U of M Board of Regents Chair David McMillan and state Reps. Jen Schultz, Dean Urdahl and Mary Murphy.

Tuesday's ceremony took place less than two months after Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton approved a bonding bill that included $28.3 million to help build the new science building — but nearly four years after UMD started seeking funding for the building from the Legislature.

The new building will allow the university to admit more chemistry, engineering, material science and biochemistry students, officials said.

BWBR Architects designed the building in collaboration with outgoing Swenson College of Science and Engineering Dean Joshua Hamilton. The incoming dean, Andrea Schokker, said the new facility will provide new learning opportunities for students.

"The CAMS building is an ideal example of a facility that provides modern space for state-of- the-art training and research that's so critical to our students' education and our region's economy," Schokker said in a news release.

The new building will house updated chemistry labs and the Advanced Materials Center, which will train students in fields such as 3-D printing and microelectronics — fields that will allow UMD to partner with regional companies such as Cirrus Aircraft and Amsoil.

"It's chemistry and engineering in an applied setting," Hamilton said in a news release.

In conjunction with the new building, UMD will begin offering a new minor in materials science this fall, with plans for a master's degree underway.

Labs, classrooms, student spaces and faculty offices will share space on each floor of the new building, which will feature lots of glass inside and out, and several collaborative learning spaces.

The project also will include repurposing the labs in the current Chemistry Building — built in 1948 — into active classrooms.

Construction will get underway next week, and is expected to take almost two years. In addition to the state money, the University of Minnesota is seeking private funding for the remaining $14.1 million cost of the project.