MIDLAND-ODESSA, TX (KWES) - At the turn of the shovel Friday, a new era began for the University of Texas of the Permian Basin.
"It's going to be comparable, architecturally, to the Wagner Noel," said UTPB President David Watts of the new Engineering building that broke ground Friday.
The three story building will serve petroleum, mechanical, nuclear, chemical, aerospace and possibly more engineering courses.
President Watts said he hopes the addition of the new engineering building will help to double the size of engineering students on campus, from about 10 percent to maybe even 20, by keeping them from going somewhere else.
"Sending them off is absolutely absurd," said Watts. "I mean, the Permian Basin is the collection of oil fields in the world today. This is where the action is. This is where people ought to be getting an education related to the oil industry and engineering."
Midland Representative Tom Craddick was on hand for the groundbreaking, he said he believes the building will not only help the school out, but bolster the community as well as they attempt to continue to build the economy in the Permian Basin.
"I think we're going to have growth of people moving here," said Craddick. "I think we're going to have a lot of people who have partial degrees who couldn't finish, or want to get graduate degrees in engineering that are going to come back and take advantage of this program."
Watts says there's a bright future for West Texas engineering.
The construction officially begins in April of 2017 and is scheduled to open in the Fall semester of 2019.