I'm pleased to report that construction has begun on a new 155,000-square-foot classroom and laboratory building located at the southeast corner of campus near the intersection of University Boulevard and Old Shell Road. The building, which will house both the College of Engineering and the School of Computer and Information Sciences, has been named Shelby Hall in honor of US Senator Richard Shelby and his wife, Dr. Annette Shelby, both long time supporters of USA programs. Senator Shelby was instrumental in securing more that $40 million in federal funding for the project. Slated for completion in September, 2011, the building will contain 63 laboratories, 17 classrooms, 3 large multimedia auditorium classrooms, 5 computer labs, 5 student study areas and 7 student design rooms, offices for faculty and staff, and much more. For a WebCam view of ongoing construction activities and a "virtual tour" of some of the building, go to the following web link: www.southalabama.edu/shelbyhall. The virtual tour is available by going to Floor Plans and Renderings.
Enrollment is up! Data for 2009-2010 for the College of Engineering, comparing fall semesters, shows an 80% increase in freshman enrollment over last year. For the same time period, the total dollar amount for engineering students receiving scholarships is $804,000, representing an increase of more than $51,000 over last year. Our engineering students are also better than ever. We have admitted 24 new students for fall 2010 who have ACT scores of 30 or higher. Finally, I had the honor of presenting a MACE-Raburn Engineering Scholarship worth $1,500 to Mr. Jordan Blecher and Mr. Jonathon Morrison, both sophomores in Mechanical Engineering.
Our faculty continues to strive for academic excellence. While there are many newsworthy events and activities to report, I want to take this opportunity to recognizing the accomplishments of three faculty members who were recently recognized by the Mobile Area Council of Engineers for their contributions to our profession and to the teaching of our students. I am pleased to extend my congratulations to Dr. Jagdish Dhawan for his selection as the 2010 Mobile Area Engineering Educator of the Year. I would also like to congratulate Dr. Tom Thomas for receiving the IEEE Mobile Section Outstanding Service Award and Dr. Lanier Cauley for receiving the ASME Gulf Coast Section Service Award.
On the graduate education and research front, our faculty have significantly increased the level of research finding from competitive grants and contracts. Our FY09 competitive awards doubled from the previous year, and we are nearly at the FY09 level just five months into FY10. The largest sources of these grants are the National Science Foundation, Department of Energy, NASA, and the Federal Highway Administration. I am very proud of the accomplishments of our students and faculty this past year for their educational and research accomplishments.