University of South Alabama, Office of Public Relations
September 6, 2012
Contact: Renee Paul, USA Public Relations, (251) 460-6640

USA to Kick Off 50th Anniversary with Dedication of Shelby
Hall, a World-Class Engineering and Computing Facility

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The University of South Alabama invites the campus community to celebrate the start of the institution’s 50th Anniversary year with the dedication of Shelby Hall, USA’s new world-class engineering and computing science facility, on Sunday, Sept. 9.

Festivities will begin with a pre-event performance by the Jaguar Marching Band at 3 p.m. in the Shelby Hall plaza, followed by the dedication ceremony at 3:30 p.m. inside the building’s atrium. The dedication will be followed by refreshments and tours of the new facility, which is located on main campus at the intersection of University Boulevard and Old Shell Road.

Shelby Hall is named in honor of U.S. Sen. Richard Shelby and his wife, Dr. Annette N. Shelby, who will be recognized at the ceremony for their commitment to education in the state of Alabama and nationally. A longtime supporter of USA and its academic programs, Sen. Shelby was instrumental in securing more than $40 million in federal funding for Shelby Hall, which houses the University’s College of Engineering and School of Computing.

The 155,000-square-foot building features technologically advanced multimedia classrooms, laboratory space, study rooms and computing facilities, enhancing the quality of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics education.  It’s expected to spur local economic development by providing industry with highly qualified engineers and computing science professionals, creating new technology, and attracting and sustaining high-quality jobs.

Additionally, partnerships between student and faculty researchers and local industry will create real-world learning experiences for USA students and ensure continued growth of the Gulf Coast economy.

“We owe a debt of gratitude to U.S. Sen. Richard Shelby whose steadfast support over many years has made this facility a reality,” USA President Gordon Moulton said. “His commitment to the University of South Alabama and to science and engineering education in this state will continue to enhance the quality of life for all Alabamians for generations to come.”

According to Sen. Shelby, the time is right for this new high-tech facility.

“I believe very strongly in the need for Alabama's colleges and universities to offer exemplary education in science and engineering,” Sen. Shelby said. “The Mobile area has seen exceptional growth in the aerospace and medical research fields.  The expanding science and technology-based industry in Mobile will only demand more university-skilled workers for high-paying jobs in the future.  The new center will allow USA to prepare students for that workforce.”

Dr. John Steadman, dean of the College of Engineering, said the new building will enable the College of Engineering to ensure the highest quality education, preparation and hands-on experiences available for engineering students, providing the community with highly motivated and skilled engineers.

“The faculty and students of the College of Engineering are excited to have our dreams for Shelby Hall come to reality,” Steadman said. “The Engineering and Computing Sciences Building provides students with state-of-the-art learning resources such as laboratories, multimedia classrooms, student design labs and study rooms. This wonderful facility has already attracted great new faculty and students to the University of South Alabama and will only increase our impact in the coming years. It is a focal point for education and research supporting economic development along the Gulf Coast.  We thank Sen. Shelby for his leadership in securing funds for the building, as well as the USA administration and our corporate partners who have stepped forward to make this happen.”

According to Dr. Alec Yasinsac, dean of the School of Computing, Mobile is evolving toward technology-driven commerce, and healthy economic growth in the community depends heavily on USA’s ability to train those who will fill high-tech positions.

“Over the past 35 years, the School of Computing has developed a legacy of excellence, leading the way in computing education with several firsts nationally in achieving accreditation in our academic programs,” Yasinsac said. “We are now in a world-class facility that elevates our research capabilities and stature tenfold. With teaching and research laboratories on cybersecurity, healthcare informatics, digital forensics, business intelligence, and other cutting-edge fields, we are positioned to attract the best students and faculty locally, from around the state and nationally. Computing is the future, and we know that the future of the School of Computing is bright in Shelby Hall.”

Shelby Hall was designed by Barganier Davis Sims Architects in Spanish Colonial architectural style, which is common in the region and historically rooted. The main entrance to Shelby Hall faces Jaguar Drive on campus and features beautiful columns, a plaza and a large three-tiered fountain that cools and animates the space.  Spacious and tranquil, the Shelby Hall plaza promises to be a favorite gathering place for USA students. The view from Old Shell Road and University Boulevard features a magnificent pillared façade that is rapidly becoming a campus landmark and complements new University signage at the corner.

A cupola atop the four-story building provides natural light to the interior’s grand atrium, the symbolic heart of Shelby Hall. Suspended above the floor of the three-story atrium is the massive stainless steel “Orb,” a geodesic sphere that is the centerpiece of the building’s interior.  Selected by Barganier Davis Sims, the metal sculpture symbolizes the connection between the mind and the world, and the transfer of knowledge between the fields of engineering and computing.  The “Orb” is 18 feet in diameter. 

Other interior features and amenities include:  natural-light study areas, student meeting rooms, student design rooms, student and faculty snack/break rooms, space for a café/deli, and Starbucks.

Outdoors, a life-sized bronze “Einstein” sculpture welcomes students to Shelby Hall from its bench near one of the building’s entrances. The whimsical piece was sculpted by artist Gary Lee Price of Springville, Utah. It was donated by 1972 graduate David Gwin and his wife, Lynn. “Einstein” is one of five campus sculptures in “The Gwin Collection,” which also includes “Gridiron,” a 24-foot-tall stainless steel sculpture recently added outside the University’s Football Field House. Together, the couple has donated more than $500,000 to USA.

Shelby Hall was built by Elkins Constructors Inc., and it’s expected to receive Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification for green and sustainable building practices.  The “green” building is projected to use 22 percent less energy, a savings of an estimated $48,000 per year in utility costs, among numerous other benefits that help protect the environment and improve the University’s bottom line.

Shelby Hall is one of many USA initiatives supported by Sen. Shelby that has had a great impact on the quality of life for the state’s citizens. Since 1998, Sen. Shelby has been instrumental in helping USA secure federal funding for numerous projects, supporting such areas as the USA Mitchell Cancer Institute, Telemedicine, Coastal Engineering, Rural Vehicular Trauma Study, USA Transit System, Center for Estuarine Research, Youth Violence Prevention, Mitchell College of Business, Oyster Bed Restoration, High Strength Composite Materials, High Peak Power Plasma Thruster, Coastal Weather Research Center, Hurricane IntensityResearch, and Shelby Hall.

The College of Engineering offers both bachelor’s and master’s degree programs in chemical and biomolecular, civil, electrical and computer, and mechanical engineering.  A new Doctor of Science in Systems Engineering will be offered beginning in fall 2013. The college currently enrolls 1,230 students and has awarded more than 4,600 degrees throughout its history.

The School of Computing offers bachelor’s degrees in Computer Science, Information Systems and Information Technology. A certificate is offered in Healthcare Information Systems. At the graduate level, the SOC offers a master’s in computer and information sciences with specializations in Computer Science and Information Systems.  The school currently enrolls 507 students and has awarded nearly 2,200 degrees.

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University of South Alabama

Since its founding in 1963, the University of South Alabama has been one of Alabama’s fastest growing universities, currently enrolling 14,883 students in a wide range of academic programs in Allied Health Professions, Arts and Sciences, Mitchell College of Business, Computing, Continuing Education and Special Programs, Education, Engineering, Medicine, Nursing, and Pharmacy with Auburn University. The University has awarded more than 72,300 degrees.

In addition to teaching and research, USA is one of the largest health care providers in the Mobile region, with its faculty physicians and two hospitals – USA Children’s & Women’s and USA Medical Center ­­– involved in more than a quarter million patient encounters annually. USA is also home to the Mitchell Cancer Institute, the first academic cancer research institute in the upper Gulf Coast region.

Facts on Shelby Hall “green” and sustainable building practices:

  • Shelby Hall is expected to receive Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification from the U.S. Green Building Council for its use of green and sustainable building practices.
  • Landscape and site design will result in less stormwater runoff than before Shelby Hall was constructed.
  • Plumbing fixtures will reduce water use by 42 percent, a savings of 124,000 gallons of water each year.
  • Shelby Hall is projected to use 22 percent less energy, a savings of an estimated $48,000 per year in utility costs.
  • More than $500,000 worth of materials used in Shelby Hall were extracted, harvested and manufactured within 100 miles of the USA campus, supporting the local economy and reducing pollution associated with material transport.
  • There are more than $1.4 million worth of recycled materials in Shelby Hall.
  • During construction of Shelby Hall, more than half of the construction waste was recycled, totaling more than 1,200 tons of material that were diverted from landfills.
  • Shelby Hall was constructed with healthier, low-emitting building materials and finishes to help protect indoor environmental quality.

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