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University of Utah breaks ground on $194M computing and engineering building



SALT LAKE CITY — Utah higher education and business leaders looked to the future as the University of Utah broke ground on the $194 million John and Marcia Price Computing and Engineering Building on Thursday.

But a quick blast from the past set the stage.

Former Utah Gov. Michael Leavitt said just after the turn of the century, Utah had aspirations to become a technology capital. So, Leavitt was spending a lot of time in Silicon Valley, talking to people like John Warnock, co-founder of Adobe.

“I went to see John, and I told him we aspire to be a technology capital,” Leavitt said. “He stared at his shoes for a minute and then looked up at me with just a hint of irritation and said, ‘Look, if you want to be a technology capital, you’ve got to invest in engineering. I cannot bring Adobe to Utah without engineers.'”

Since that time, Utah has invested in engineering (and Adobe has come to Utah), with the latest investment coming by way of the future state-of-the-art, 252,000-square-foot university building at 75 Central Campus Drive.

The demand for more space is high, too.

Over the past two decades, engineering students account for almost a quarter of the U.’s incoming freshman class, and the number of engineering and computer science graduates has tripled.

The Utah Legislature provided $118 million toward the total of $194 million to construct the building.

“They see this as an investment, and I’m sure it’s going to pay back many times,” said Richard Brown, dean of the U.’s College of Engineering.

Brown said that he expects the building to be finished and filled with students and faculty by January 2027.

The building itself will include an entire floor devoted to undergraduates; it will house computer labs, a makers’ space, project rooms, collaboration spaces, an event space, a 400-seat auditorium, a plethora of modern research facilities and labs focusing on things like artificial intelligence, robotics, human-centered computing, wireless networking and more.


We’re not just laying foundations, we’re laying the groundwork for the future. It is our hope that this building will serve as a beacon of inspiration, innovation (and) collaboration, fostering the next generation of innovators and global leaders.

– John Price


Notably, the building will house secure research spaces, allowing faculty and students to conduct classified research, something Brown said will “significantly increase” the amount of research that can be done at the college of engineering.

“It will allow some students working on those projects to get those clearances before they graduate so they can go to work immediately for a company like L3 Harris or Northrop Grumman or Lockheed or Boeing, working on classified projects,” Brown said.

Utah Gov. Spencer Cox pointed to the building as a big economic boost, referencing data from the Kem C. Gardner Policy Institute which shows that in 2020, Utah’s engineering and computer science workforce generated 238,400 full and part-time jobs, $19.1 billion in earnings and $25.2 billion in gross domestic product — good for 12-15% of Utah’s $200 billion economy at the time.

“The taxpayers of Utah are one of the biggest donors to these buildings. We’re using that taxpayer generosity because we know that this is an investment that will pay back. It will create jobs for those taxpayers, for the children and grandchildren of those taxpayers, and make it better for all of us,” Cox said.

For John and Marcia Price — the philanthropy and business leaders whose names are tied to the college of engineering — the building is more than just one displaying their name.

It’s an investment in the future and positioning for Utah to become a leader in computing and engineering at both a national and global scale.

“We’re not just laying foundations, we’re laying the groundwork for the future. It is our hope that this building will serve as a beacon of inspiration, innovation (and) collaboration, fostering the next generation of innovators and global leaders,” John Price said.



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