Kenneth Kelly and his wife, Kimberly.

Auburn University’s Samuel Ginn College of Engineering hosted a dedication ceremony Friday, Sept. 13, to celebrate the opening of the $44 million Brown-Kopel Engineering Student Achievement Center.

Construction of the center was made possible thanks to a $30 million gift from John and Rosemary Brown, which was announced as part of an overall $57 million gift — the largest in university history — in April 2015 at the Because This is Auburn campaign kickoff event.

Eufaula native Kenneth Kelly (Class of 1990. electrical engineering), along with more than 50 alumni have donated $17 million toward the project in addition to the Browns’ gift. These gifts supplemented cost of construction, with the remaining funds dedicated toward endowing programming in the facility. Spaces within the center were named in honor of donor contributions, including the Kenneth Kelly Engineering Academic Excellence Program Reception Area.

“I am so proud and excited to speak on behalf of the Samuel Ginn College of Engineering when I say that this facility and the programming within it will have a transformative impact on our students and our institution,” said Christopher B. Roberts, dean of engineering.

The dean also took time to recognize each donor – including Kelly – during his remarks, thanking them for “your investment in our college,“ saying, “your philanthropy has allowed this tremendous moment to come to fruition.”

Located in the heart of campus, the Brown-Kopel Center specifically addresses students’ professional and academic needs, providing one of the most comprehensive, active-learning environments in the country. The center also creates greater opportunities for collaboration among faculty members and fellow students, cultivating a sense of home within the engineering campus. It is designed to serve students from all engineering disciplines, and provides the gamut of student resources from recruiting to career development.

The ground floor of the building includes an innovation center, which consists of student maker spaces, laboratories, shops and project incubators; a design studio, large and small group study rooms, flexible classrooms, computer labs and more, while also serving as the home for engineering student organizations. The main floor houses suites for student recruitment, scholarships, tutoring, academic advising, career development and corporate relations center, the Engineering Academic Excellence Program -- named by Kelly -- and offices for support staff. The third floor incorporates ample, spacious student study areas with large-group and small-group study rooms, along with boardrooms, conference rooms and a Grand Hall all outfitted with the latest smart technologies.

The project completes the third phase of more than $85 million in new construction and renovations for the College of Engineering.

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