Texas A&M System to Observe New National Holiday

The Texas A&M University System News Release

BRYAN/ COLLEGE-STATION, Texas — The Texas A&M University System will shut down Friday, June 18, in observance of Juneteenth being designated a national holiday, Chancellor John Sharp announced Thursday.

“This is a special day that originated in Texas and we’re proud to honor it,” Sharp said.  

President Biden signed the Juneteenth National Independence Day Act today, establishing June 19 as a national holiday. In recognition of the historic nature of this event, the 11 universities and eight state agencies in the Texas A&M System will observe this holiday Friday.

Juneteenth commemorates the end of slavery. On June 19, 1865 Maj. Gen. Gordan Granger arrived in Galveston and delivered General Order No. 3, which announced that all slaves were free in accordance with the Emancipation Proclamation. Months later, the 13th Amendment was ratified, abolishing slavery.

Given the short notice, employees should report to work if they provide essential services or whose services are needed Friday to support events and activities involving or serving members of the public. They will be provided compensatory time off.

Tim Leach’82 Elected Chairman of Board of Regents

The Texas A&M University System News Release

BRYAN-COLLEGE STATION, Texas — The Texas A&M University System Board of Regents on Monday elected Tim Leach of Midland as chairman and William “Bill” Mahomes Jr. of Dallas as vice chairman.

Gov. Greg Abbott appointed Leach’82 to the Board of Regents in 2017. He has served as vice chairman the past two years. Leach is Executive Vice President of ConocoPhillips and a member of the company’s board of directors.

Gov. Abbott first appointed Mahomes’69 to the Board of Regents in 2015 and reappointed him this year to another six-year term. He is a partner at Bracewell LLP.

The Board also named Al Davis, deputy agency director of the Texas A&M Engineering Extension Service, as the interim director for the Texas A&M Forest Service, following the retirement of Tom Boggus.

Amy K. Swinford, the associate agency director for the Texas A&M Veterinary Medical Diagnostic Laboratory, was named interim director, following the retirement of Bruce Akey.

Board committee members also were named:

COMMITTEE ON AUDIT

Mike Hernandez, Chair

Randy Brooks

Bill Mahomes

Cliff Thomas

COMMITTEE ON ACADEMIC AND STUDENT AFFAIRS

Jay Graham, Chair

Randy Brooks

Mike Hernandez

Elaine Mendoza

COMMITTEE ON FINANCE

Bob Albritton, Chair

Jay Graham

Mike Plank

Elaine Mendoza

COMMITTEE ON BUILDINGS AND PHYSICAL PLANT

Mike Plank, Chair

Bob Albritton

Bill Mahomes

Cliff Thomas 

Monday’s board meeting also marked the first meeting for Mati Rigsby’23, newly appointed as student regent by Gov. Greg Abbott. The Gainesville native is studying epidemiology at Texas A&M University.

About The Texas A&M University System
The Texas A&M University System is one of the largest systems of higher education in the nation with a budget of $6.3 billion. The System is a statewide network of 11 universities; a comprehensive health science center; eight state agencies, including the Texas Division of Emergency Management; and the RELLIS Campus. The Texas A&M System educates more than 151,000 students and makes more than 22 million additional educational contacts through service and outreach programs each year. System-wide, research and development expenditures exceeded $1 billion in FY 2019 and helped drive the state’s economy.

Contact: Laylan Copelin
Vice Chancellor of Marketing and Communications
(979) 458-6425
(512) 289-2782 cell
lcopelin@tamus.edu

Texas A&M System Tapped to Help Offshore Energy Industry

The Texas A&M University System News Release

TEES to Lead Research and Development Consortium for U.S. Government.

BRYAN-COLLEGE STATION, Texas — The Texas A&M Engineering Experiment Station (TEES) will collaborate with energy-sector stakeholders, several national labs and universities in 10 states as the manager of a new Ocean Energy Safety Institute (OESI).

The goals of the new OESI include safer workplaces, improved environmental stewardship and greater U.S. energy security.

Through advances in technology, monitoring equipment and workforce training, the OESI will work to mitigate environmental and safety risks for both conventional and renewable energy technologies and prevent geohazards, work-process incidents and offshore oil spills.

The consortium is organized under an agreement announced in May between TEES and the U.S. Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement and the U.S. Department of Energy. The agreement calls for up to $40 million from the federal government over five years, as well as about $12 million in investments from consortium members.

A smaller-scale OESI had been operated until recently by TEES and two other Texas universities. Now, the OESI includes 16 universities in 10 states, including Texas A&M University and Prairie View A&M University. It also involves several national labs and more than 20 stakeholders representing conventional and renewable energy – including offshore wind and marine and hydrokinetic energy – from every offshore energy producing region.

“Tell us how we can help and we’ll be right there,” said John Sharp, chancellor of The Texas A&M University System. “We’re delighted to contribute to the energy sector. It fuels so many jobs in Texas and across the country.”

Katherine Banks, Texas A&M president, is the principal investigator on the OESI project. She applauded her team for pulling together a diverse array of stakeholders from the energy industry and academic institutions.

The universities involved in the OESI represent Massachusetts, Maryland, Virginia, Florida, Louisiana, Texas, Oklahoma, California, Washington and Alaska.

“We are glad the federal government selected Texas A&M to support the energy industry,” Banks said. “TEES has nationally recognized expertise in shepherding advanced research and development.”

John Pappas, TEES director of center operations and adjunct faculty member in the Department of Ocean Engineering at Texas A&M, is the program manager for the OESI project. He called the new consortium a “game-changer.”

“We look forward to being part of the next generation of safety and environmental protection technologies for offshore energy production,” Pappas said. “Our team is extraordinarily diverse, creative and talented. It will offer new solutions and new ways of thinking.”

TEES will be responsible for developing a road map of projects in consultation with consortium members. Once approved by federal officials, the road map becomes a guide for individual projects with yearly objectives.

While the Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement and the  Department of Energy will provide expertise, direction and oversight through a Joint Steering Committee (JSC), the OESI will operate independently. The JSC will include experts in oil and gas, offshore wind and marine and hydrokinetic energy, which is the method of converting energy from waves, tides, ocean currents, and thermal and dissolved-salt gradients into electricity.

Faisal Khan will be the OESI technical director. A chemical engineering professor, Khan is a leading researcher in offshore technology and safety engineering. He emphasized that consortium projects will entail researchers from a variety of engineering fields: ocean, industrial, chemical, civil, mechanical and others.

“This is a multidisciplinary, holistic approach,” Khan said. “We will provide technical support and safety and environmental protection technologies for oil, gas, wind and wave energy production.”

About The Texas A&M University System
The Texas A&M University System is one of the largest systems of higher education in the nation with a budget of $6.3 billion. The Texas A&M System is a statewide network of 11 universities; a comprehensive health science center; eight state agencies, including the Texas Division of Emergency Management; and the RELLIS Campus. The Texas A&M System educates more than 151,000 students and makes more than 22 million additional educational contacts each year. Systemwide, research and development expenditures exceed $1 billion and helped drive the state’s economy.

Contact: Mike Reilly
Chancellor’s Office of Marketing and Communications

(979) 458-6492
(402) 679-0456 cell
mreilly@tamus.edu

Texas A&M University System Regents Approve $70 million Engineering Building for Prairie View A&M University

The Texas A&M University System News Release

BRYAN/COLLEGE STATION — Prairie View A&M University is getting a new, $70 million engineering and classroom building.

Construction of the cutting-edge facility was approved today by The Texas A&M University System Board of Regents, which has made unprecedented levels of investment in Texas’ oldest Historically Black University in recent years.

“Prairie View is resurgent under President Ruth Simmons and our Board of Regents,’’ said John Sharp, Chancellor of The Texas A&M University System. “This new engineering building is the latest evidence of the investment in Prairie View A&M and its students.”

Enrollment at Prairie View’s Roy G. Perry College of Engineering has grown rapidly from 960 students in 2010 to 1,635 students in 2018, and the number of graduate students has almost tripled. The college has grown to have more than 85 faculty members and researchers, and four new outstanding research centers have been added to the college.

“This new building will allow us to increase undergraduate and graduate degrees, hire more faculty and create more African American engineers,” said President Ruth Simmons. “This purpose-built facility for engineering and research will transform teaching and research output at Prairie View A&M University.”

The new building, which is expected to be about 106,000 gross square feet, will balance student spaces with focused research spaces. New lab spaces will be designed to support multidisciplinary research. There will be dedicated space for work in 3-D manufacturing, space exploration, data analytics and artificial intelligence, robotics, structural analysis and more. A maker space area will promote collaboration of students across engineering disciplines.

Almost two-thirds of the square footage will be for direct instruction, with six generalized instructional spaces and 14 specialized labs. The remaining third of the facility will be comprised of research lab space for faculty and graduate students.

The $70 million engineering facility will be built at the intersection of Reda Bland Evans Street and E.E. O’Bannion Street on the north end of campus. Construction will begin in June and should be completed by August of 2023.

The Texas A&M University System Board of Regents have invested more than $247 million in construction projects and Chancellor Research Initiative grants at Prairie View A&M University since 2009, building new classroom buildings, a new student recreation center, a new fabrication center, a new early childhood learning academy and new athletic facilities, including a new football stadium and a new grandstand for the baseball field.

About The Texas A&M University System
The Texas A&M University System is one of the largest systems of higher education in the nation with a budget of $6.3 billion. The System is a statewide network of 11 universities; a comprehensive health science center; eight state agencies, including the Texas Division of Emergency Management; and the RELLIS Campus. The Texas A&M System educates more than 151,000 students and makes more than 22 million additional educational contacts through service and outreach programs each year. System-wide, research and development expenditures exceeded $1 billion in FY 2019 and helped drive the state’s economy.

Contact: Laylan Copelin
Vice Chancellor of Marketing and Communications
(979) 458-6425
(512) 289-2782 cell
lcopelin@tamus.edu

New RELLIS Infrastructure to Undergird Army Innovation

The Texas A&M University System News Release

Regents OK $13 million for 5G Network Cable, Water and Electric work

BRYAN-COLLEGE STATION, Texas — There is nothing glamorous about infrastructure, even these days as Congress debates the meaning of the word.

However modern, high-quality infrastructure is critical to a vital strategic goal shared by the Texas A&M University System and the U.S. Army: to build a world-class ecosystem for military technology innovation on the RELLIS Campus. It’s called the George H.W. Bush Combat Development Complex (BCDC).

The Board of Regents took an important step toward the shared goal Thursday by appropriating $13.1 million for infrastructure improvements on the west side of RELLIS. The improvements will undergird two testing ranges for next generation technology, the Innovation Proving Ground (IPG) and the Ballistic, Aero-optics and Materials (BAM.)

The infrastructure package includes basic improvements — water, sewers and electrical power — to areas around the runways of the former Army and Air Force base. It also includes fiber cabling to fully support 5th generation (5G) Internet capabilities.

“5G is a really important to our partners and potential partners,” said Ross Guieb, a retired Army Colonel serving as BCDC executive director.  “The intel community, DOD and defense industry leaders are all watching closely with interest and excitement.”

Army commanders and other U.S. military leaders eagerly await completion of the BCDC over the next several years. The $200 million complex is the result of a partnership between the U.S. Army Futures Command and The Texas A&M University System, Texas A&M Engineering Experiment Station and the State of Texas.

The BCDC includes the IPG, the BAM and other facilities that will bring together researchers from U.S. universities, the military and the private sector for collaboration, demonstrations and high-tech testing of military prototypes.

Regents Thursday also approved three amendments to enhance BAM’s instrumentation for research and testing.

BAM will host enclosed testing of hypersonic vehicles, directed energy beams and the impact that hypersonic blasts have on various materials.

The changes improve the tube’s rail guidance system, add blast target tanks and a soft catch assembly that will safely recover flown objects for post-flight analysis and data collection.

The combined cost of the changes is $3.5 million, bringing the total estimated cost to about $42.5 million.

At one kilometer long and 2.5 meters in diameter, BAM will be the nation’s largest enclosed hypersonic test range. It will bridge a critical gap in U.S. research capacity between lab-scale experiments and open-range tests, which can cost tens of millions of dollars per test.

Regents Thursday also:

  • Authorized representatives of the Texas A&M System to negotiate with the City of Galveston for purchase of the portion of the Seawolf Parkway that runs through the Texas A&M University at Galveston campus. Regents also authorized additional funding discussions to support the realignment of the Pelican Island Bridge to redirect hazardous materials around the campus.
  • Authorized a new ground lease with the Association of Former Students on the Texas A&M University in College Station to expand the Clayton W. Williams Jr. Alumni Center. The Association is planning to build a Grand Hall of about 80,000 square feet and make other improvements to host families on Aggie Ring Days, hold group events and offer students more ways to explore Aggie traditions and core values.
  • Authorized Texas A&M System representatives to negotiate changes to an existing lease of space within the National Center for Therapeutics Manufacturing (NCTM) in College Station to FUJIFILM Diosynth Biotechnologies Texas (FDBT.) The amendment is primarily to extend the lease term from 2024 to 2034 prior to FDBT investing $6 million in upgrades at the location, where the company produces virus and cell banks for vaccine manufacturing.

About The Texas A&M University System
The Texas A&M University System is one of the largest systems of higher education in the nation with a budget of $6.3 billion. The Texas A&M System is a statewide network of 11 universities; a comprehensive health science center; eight state agencies, including the Texas Division of Emergency Management; and the RELLIS Campus. The Texas A&M System educates more than 151,000 students and makes more than 22 million additional educational contacts each year. Systemwide, research and development expenditures exceed $1 billion and help drive the state’s economy.

Contact: Laylan Copelin
Vice Chancellor of Marketing and Communications
(979) 458-6425
(512) 289-2782 cell
lcopelin@tamus.edu