UMass Lowell receives $30 million from state to modernize STEM facilities

LOWELL — Gov. Charlie Baker has announced a $30 million investment in UMass Lowell for educational infrastructure in science and engineering fields.

In addition to $45 million from the university, the state funding will be used to renovate the instructional labs in Olney Hall, the largest science building on campus. The investment is meant to accelerate the pipeline of STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) graduates as the demand for workers in those fields grows in Massachusetts.

“We could graduate more scientists, engineers and other students prepared for high-tech careers today, but we simply don’t have the instructional space to expand admissions for some of our most popular, in-demand majors,” said UMass Lowell Chancellor Jacquie Moloney. “I want to thank Gov. Baker, Lt. Gov. (Karyn) Polito and the entire administration for their support of this project.”

Baker said the funding will help educate students who plan to go into STEM fields.

“The investments we are announcing today will help our public colleges and universities better educate and train the workforce of tomorrow,” he said. “The overarching goal of these investments is to modernize campus facilities to support STEM instruction, ensuring students graduate from college with skills to be ready to compete in high-demand fields.”

Moloney said graduates from UMass Lowell’s Kennedy College of Sciences, Francis College of Engineering and Zuckerberg College of Health Sciences are in particularly high demand because of the schools’ partnerships with businesses in the state.

“Most of our students in STEM majors graduate with co-ops, internships and other experiential learning experiences on their resumes,” she said. “Our job placement rates are so high because businesses know many of our students may already have the equivalent of a year on the job by the time they graduate.”

Olney Hall is a 232,600-square-foot building constructed in the early 1970s. The modernization of the facility will include adding technology-rich active learning physics labs, advanced computational labs for chemistry and physics, a lecture room equipped for distance education, flexible interdisciplinary instructional labs, modernized physics, life and environmental sciences teaching labs and an instruction suite for tutoring and study support. The project will also reduce the building’s carbon footprint and modernize its ventilation systems.

Moloney said the modernization of Olney Hall is closely aligned with UMass Lowell’s planned development of its East Campus with space for co-location programs for companies to partner with faculty, researchers and students.

“We’ve had numerous conversations with high-tech firms who would love to have a presence on campus to work closely with our faculty and students,” she said. “Thanks to these Olney investments, as companies locate on East Campus to partner with us, we’ll have a growing supply of STEM students eager to take advantage of experiential learning opportunities.”