Ferland Engineering Education and Design Center opens at UMaine to address student demand, employer needs

With the grand opening of the E. James and Eileen P. Ferland Engineering Education and Design Center (Ferland EEDC) at the University of Maine, a new chapter begins in engineering education to better meet the needs of students and employers, including the innovation to advance research and economic development.

Upward of 500 people from throughout the state attended the grand opening ceremony for Ferland EEDC on Aug. 24. The late-morning program was followed by a ribbon-cutting and an open house with students and faculty greeting guests on the three floors of the $78 million facility — the largest project of its kind in UMaine history, made possible with the support from more than 500 donors and a $50 million investment from the state of Maine.

A recording of the event livestream is online.

Ferland EEDC is home to the Department of Mechanical Engineering and the Biomedical Engineering Program, and includes teaching laboratories for the Mechanical Engineering Technology Program. 


A photo of a classroom in the new Ferland EEDC building


The Student Project Design Suite is the best of its kind in the Northeast, with 44 workbenches that will be assigned to students; and shops for biomedical engineering, electronics, 3D printing, vehicles, metals, wood and composites. The building also houses the Campus Welcome and STEM Outreach Center, which will be the starting point for campus tours and five collaborative classrooms that will serve the entire campus.

The facility will have the capacity to increase engineering enrollment by a third — 600 additional students a year — to meet the demand of students and employers in the state.

Approval of $50 million in public investment over 10 years by the Maine Legislature and then-Gov. Paul LePage in 2017 helped to catalyze the campaign. Since then, a record $25 million in private support was raised from more than 500 alumni, friends, foundations and corporate donors for this capital priority of UMaine’s $200 million Vision for Tomorrow comprehensive campaign, led by the University of Maine Foundation. 

In the years since, subsequent state Legislatures and Gov. Janet Mills have sustained this support and in May, appropriated additional debt service that will help modernize other engineering and related facilities at UMaine and across the University of Maine System to advance a goal to double the output of engineers and computing and information science professionals to meet the demands of Maine employers for world-class talent and innovation.

Construction of the 115,000-square-foot facility began in May 2020. A virtual groundbreaking was held in April 2020; a virtual topping off ceremony was held in February 2021.

WBRC Architects Engineers, based in Bangor, and Ellenzweig of Boston designed Ferland EEDC; Consigli Construction of Milford, Massachusetts and Portland, Maine led its construction. 

Over the two years of the design and two years of the construction of Ferland EEDC, more than 70 UMaine alumni are estimated to have worked on the project.

“This state-of-the-art center at our R1 university will allow us to produce more engineering and computing and information science professionals that Maine needs to grow its economy and be competitive in the world,” said UMaine President Joan Ferrini-Mundy. “This facility is a tribute to the forward thinking and leadership of three Legislatures and two Governors on behalf of the people of Maine and stakeholders who know the value of a UMaine education and hands-on research learning and the difference it makes in the success of its students, alumni and the state.”

This is an exciting, pivotal time for engineering education in — and for — Maine, said UMaine College of Engineering Dean Dana Humphrey. “The Ferland Engineering Education and Design Center is a capital investment in the future of engineering education that will impact Maine and beyond, made possible by the vision and leadership of hundreds of donors and corporate partners who know the difference that this facility will make in workforce and economic development. Coupled with the transformational investment in the Maine College of Engineering, Computing and Information Science by the Harold Alfond Foundation, we are positioned to provide the critical industries, communities, and employers with the skilled workers and innovation needed to meet demand and move Maine forward.”

The building’s $10 million naming gift, the largest capital gift in UMaine history, came from Skowhegan natives E. James “Jim” Ferland ’64 and Eileen P. Ferland.

Five additional major naming gifts to the project came from the Abbagadassett Foundation; Gustavus and Louise Pfeiffer Research Foundation; Harold Alfond Foundation; Packaging Corporation of America; and Pratt & Whitney. 

“We’d like to acknowledge Dean Dana Humphrey’s leadership, as well as the dedicated design and construction team,” said the Ferlands. “It’s an honor to have the Ferland Engineering Education and Design Center bear our family name. It’s what we expected — a place that will inspire and prepare the next generation of UMaine engineers.”

The Ferland’s gift in 2018 was an important catalyst for the center funding, said University of Maine Foundation President Jeff Mills.

“Their generosity and vision inspired others which led us to the finish line for completing this state-of-the-art center,” Jeff Mills said.

Contact: Margaret Nagle, nagle@maine.edu