ODESSA, Texas — Hundreds of the community gathered to celebrate University of Texas of the Permian Basin's new engineering facility with a ribbon cutting. But it goes a little deeper than just more space for its students.

"This facility will provide the means for our engineering program and other programs to grow and to step up to meet the needs of the workforce and the innovation demands of our region," said Dr. Sandra Woodley, UT Permian Basin President.

The three-story building in total cost $55 million dollars and is all part of the university's goal to fill what they call a "labor gap".

"This is my first semester here and I'm just impressed and very happy that I get to experience this building for my last year," said Dean Lizzote, a senior mechanical engineer.

With a new lecture hall, 42-seat classrooms, over a dozen laboratories and new technology for all engineering courses, Lizzote says it's a hard opportunity to pass.

"It's going to benefit me because I get to learn all these different skills, I get to bring in the real world, it's not just completely theory. The labs, they run experiments that we run in the field. The opportunities for research interacting and networking with professors at community events are what will really help me in the real world," said Lizzote.

"Our future is so bright we're literally wearing shades.. ya see?" said Dr. Woodley.

Even before the new facility, Dr. Woodley says its students are already number one on the map for income.

"The U.S. News and World report lists UT Permian Basin as the number one university in the country, as the highest paid petroleum engineering graduates," said Dr. Woodley.

Officials say the next generation of petroleum mechanical, chemical and electrical engineers will now double and pour more workers into the Permian work force.

For more information on scholarships, registration and programs check out their website: https://www.utpb.edu/engineering/index 

UTPB - The University of Texas Permian Basin added a new photo - at UTPB College of Engineering.

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