By Marianne McBride Lewis
Associate Director of Public Affairs
(Feb. 9, 2006)--A four-foot tall mechanized vehicle, its body covered with a UTSA t-shirt, and its head, a silver tray holding oversized blue scissors, will delight guests Friday as it wheels its way through the crowd to deliver the ceremonial scissors for the official dedication and ribbon-cutting ceremony for the $84 million Biotechnology, Sciences and Engineering (BSE) Building on the UTSA 1604 Campus.
The mechanized vehicle, dubbed "Edward Scissorhead" was designed by robotics engineering students Long Chen, Shawn Liu, Chris Torres and Daniel Johnson.
The 227,000-square-foot, five-story BSE Building is the largest at UTSA and one of the largest research-related educational centers in Texas.
The building includes 70 research and instructional laboratories that will facilitate interdisciplinary research and collaboration between scientists and engineers. The facility will accommodate graduate students studying biotechnology, biology, biomedical engineering, electrical and civil engineering, and chemistry.
"It's a great day for UTSA and a great day for Texas," said UTSA President Ricardo Romo. "As UTSA continues its journey to become a top-100 research university, this campus addition becomes a cornerstone. Novel ideas and scientific discoveries made within the walls of the BSE Building will create solutions to problems and change the future of our city, our state and our country."
UT System Chancellor Mark Yudof will be on hand to deliver the morning's keynote address after an introduction by Cyndi Taylor Krier, vice chairman of the UT System Board of Regents.
According to Yudof, "Investing in the sciences and engineering is a wise choice for UTSA, for Texas and for the thousands of undergraduate, graduate and professional school students interested in pursuing careers in science and engineering at a superior Texas university. UTSA is doing its share in keeping Texas competitive in a global economy."
The program also will include remarks by State Sen. Leticia Van de Putte and recognitions by UTSA Development Board Chairman Tom C. Frost.
Designed by FKP Architects Inc. of Houston, specialists in hospital design, the facility was built by J.T. Vaughn Construction Inc. of San Antonio.
Funding for the $84 million building came from a variety of sources. The UT System Board of Regents allocated $54 million for the project and the Texas Legislature approved $23 million. The remaining $7 million was raised through gifts and grants, including a $1.5 million grant from the U. S. Dept. of Commerce Economic Development Administration, $1 million contribution from the City of San Antonio and a $500,000 donation from AT&T Inc., formerly SBC Communications.
Over the last 18 months, UTSA recruited 22 science faculty and five engineering faculty in preparation for the opening of the BSE Building. Today, the College of Sciences includes 134 full-time tenured and tenure-track faculty and 8,823 students. The College of Engineering includes 42 full-time tenured and tenure-track faculty and 2,810 students.
Thomas Forsthuber, an immunologist, joined UTSA in 2005 in the College of Sciences and holds the Jesse H. and Mary Gibbs Jones Endowed Chair in Biotechnology. Forsthuber left Case Western Reserve University, one of the top-20 private research universities in the nation, to be a part of UTSA's next generation of growth. Forsthuber's lab will seek a cure for chronic lifelong autoimmune diseases such as multiple sclerosis, asthma and rheumatoid arthritis
George Perry, a pathologist, also from Case Western Reserve, joined UTSA in 2005 as dean of the College of Sciences. Nationally recognized as an expert in Alzheimer's disease, Perry has authored more than 600 scientific publications and 500 abstracts. He serves on the editorial board of more than 20 publications and is editor-in-chief of The Journal of Alzheimer's Disease.
Mo Jamishidi, an electrical engineer, joined UTSA in 2006 from the University of New Mexico. One of Jamishidi's laboratories will focus on building robotic mobile rovers for exploration of unstructured environments like planets. Other work includes researching explosive contributions to systems engineeering, especially to large-scale complex systems which are the building blocks of "System of Systems," a technology pertinent to national security.
Jamishidi is nationally recognized as a mentor for minority engineering students. He founded the Autonomous Control Engineering Center while at UNM, a program he will bring to UTSA. Additionally, he helped mentor 17 minority doctoral engineering students over the past 10 years.
In addition to new faculty recruits, UTSA's existing science and engineering faculty also are conducting ground breaking research. College of Engineering interim dean Mauli Agrawal and chemist David Johnson are among this group.
Agrawal and Johnson are involved in translational research, work that is sometimes described as going from "bench to bedside" -- research that is translated from one discipline to another before being made available to the end user.
Agrawal and Johnson are collaborating with clinicians at the UT Health Science Center at San Antonio to develop a new drug delivery system for heart attack patients. The collaborative research involves searching for a way to release nanosized drug molecules from an implanted cardiac stent. Once developed, their research could greatly reduce the complicationsfollowing heart surgery and help lessen the annual cardiac stent procedure failure rate.
The five-story BSE Building exterior features a design compatible with San Antonio's regional architectural style. It is a blend of limestone, stucco and sloped clay-tile roofs framed by arched openings and light-catching modular windows.
The atrium, which is open to the roofline five stories above ground level, includes artwork that represents the worlds of science and engineering. Designed by Denver artist Carolyn Braaksma, the work includes a quote by Albert Einstein, a floor design that depicts bacterium, fossils and electrical circuits, and three-dimensional concrete relief wall panels.