Qualcomm Technologies Inc. donated $1 million to the Cockrell School of Engineering to help fund the school’s Engineering Education and Research Center, which will house the Wireless Networking and Communication Group and the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, the University announced last week.
Associate engineering dean John Halton said a combination of independent donations and state grants is crucial to the development of school programs such as the communication group, which is an interdisciplinary center for research and education, although the companies that give these gifts also benefit.
“It’s a nice balance between philanthropy, wanting to do something good to help a top quality institution like UT … and to hire students,” Halton said. “In the case of Qualcomm, there will be students working in the wireless area, which is Qualcomm’s heart-and-soul technology. Qualcomm already employs many of these graduates.”
The research center, which is scheduled to be completed in 2017, will be 430,000 square feet, including a 299-seat auditorium, cafeteria and engineering library. It will accommodate approximately 65 faculty members, 650 graduate students and 1,300 undergraduate students.
According to Ahmed Tewfik, chair of the electrical and computer engineering department, the EERC building will cost more than $310 million and will provide labs and other research spaces for 30 to 40 percent of engineering graduate students who will work in the building.
“The donation is actually for space that is going to be used by our wireless net research center,” Tewfik said. “It’s going to pay for some of the labs and offices for students and post doctorates and meeting rooms. It will essentially provide infrastructure that our wireless research center needs to do its work. The EERC is, at the moment, one of the best in the nation.”
The communication group is working on specific projects, which include 5G networks for wireless devices and enhancing social networks, transportation and video processing. Ioannis Mitliagkas, an electrical and computer engineering graduate student and member of the group, said the research center, as well as the equipment that will come with it, will help his fellow engineers complete work more efficiently, as well as aid their research.
“In my case, I don’t need a lot of specialty equipment because most of what I do is math, but my lab mates would really need it,” Mitliagkas said. “The specialized equipment for communication, for example — it makes our lives much easier.”