MSU breaks ground on civil engineering building

MSU officials and others broke ground on the Richard A. Rula Civil and Environmental Engineering COmplex Friday morning. From left, MSU Bagley College of Engineering Dean
Jason Keith; Ergon Asphalt Group President J. Baxter Burns II; President of Hemphill Construction Company and lead project benefactor Richard A. Rula; MSU President Mark E. Keenum; MSU Associate Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering Randy Follett; JKC Holdings Inc. President and CEO and project benefactor Rodger Johnson; and MSUCivil and Environmental Engineering Department Head Dennis Truax. (Photo by Charlie Benton, SDN)

Staff Writer

After 16 years of discussion and planning, ground was broken on a new engineering building at Mississippi State University Friday.

The Richard A. Rula Engineering and Science Complex will serve civil and environmental engineering programs in the Bagley College of Engineering. It is named for Richard A. Rula, a 1970 civil engineering alumnus, and the current president of the Florence-based Hemphill Construction. Rula donated $8 million toward the project in addition to numerous other donors and a bond from the state of Mississippi.

The 70,000-square-foot facility will house laboratories, classrooms offices and workspaces for civil engineering faculty and students. Completion is set at 18 months and the price tag for the project is $34 million, of which approximately $14 million comes from private donors.

“Engineering is an integral part of Mississippi State University,” Rula said. “It is in my opinion, the lead college in the university, and we need to keep it at the forefront of everything. It’s going to be a wonderful facility for us to have in the years to come.”

Rula said he first discussed the idea for the building with the university in 2002, and said the project was a long time coming.

“Progress is here,” Rula said.

Mississippi State President Mark Keenum also spoke to Bagley’s importance at MSU, and the college’s need for more space.“It will be a beautiful facility that will help prepare our students to be great engineering leaders for generations to come,” Keenum said. “I could not be more happy about this occasion.”

He said the facility would make the nationally renowned engineering program even better.

“Having a facility of this significance to enhance our college, makes the college all that much better for our students, and again, the role that they play in the world at large,” Keenum said. “This will be a state-of-the-art facility.”

The Columbus-based West Brothers Construction will build the facility, and Eley Guild Hardy Architects is the design professional for the project.

Rula was also named MSU’s National Alumnus of the Year for 2019 this week. He said the meaning of the honor hadn’t quite sunk in yet, and called the announcement a humbling experience.

“I’m very appreciative, very humbled by it, and very honored,” Rula said. “Hopefully I can continue to uphold the standard that it means to everybody.”

The building will be located on the Corner of Hardy Street and Morrill Road.