UH College of Technology prepares to move to Sugar Land

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UH has started the process of moving the College of Technology entirely to the Sugar Land campus. (Courtesy of the University of Houston)

The University of Houston’s campus in Sugar Land already offers several undergraduate and graduate programs from the College of Technology. According to UH officials, that number will increase significantly over the next few years with the construction of a new $52.4 million building on the same property.

The College of Technology is headquartered on UH’s main campus on Calhoun Drive in Houston, but that will change by 2025 when the entire college – along with all its departments and programs – officially moves its headquarters to the University of Houston in Sugar Land. It’s at 14000 University Blvd., according to university officials.

Considering a potential breakthrough date for the university’s spring 2023, Jay Neal, Vice President and Director of Operations at UH, said a new building will not only provide space for relocation but will also help facilitate potential future growth. Candy Land.

“Some departments have asked if they can come here without waiting until the new building arrives,” Neal said. But while we are happy with the enthusiasm, we have to be operationally realistic.”

Neal said UH’s move is part of its strategy to become a larger part of Sugar Land and Fort Bend County business infrastructure. As UH moves forward, adding technology to the workforce pipeline, attracting more businesses and driving growth remains in mind, he added.

Ultimately, the college will provide a focus around education initiatives that are in growing demand and aligned with local recruiting goals, Jeff Wiley, chairman of the Fort Bend County Economic Development Council, said in an email.

“Relocating the College of Technology in its entirety into our community provides an identity that can set us apart from other communities and educational offerings,” Wiley said. “MIT and Cambridge didn’t start with the reputation it has today as a technology hub, but that’s what it stands for. If we can tap into this educational infrastructure, in 100 years, maybe another community will be saying the same thing. About us.”

inside look

In October, the Texas Legislature closed its third special session of the year, allocating more than $339 million to capital construction projects for the UH System.

Neal said this is an allocation of $52.4 million to UH, which will be used to build the second College of Technology academic building on the Sugar Land campus.

Neal said the $52.4 million capital construction aid projects paid out from the state’s general revenue fund can only be used for new building and not to improve existing college facilities.

“As far as I know, that money is definitely for the building,” Neal said. “These are construction dollars.”

Neal said requests for architectural proposals were sent in early March, and the university expects to have those proposals in hand by April. He said most of the building’s details remained malleable.

Neal said construction of a new building will likely begin in late 2022 or early 2023 and will open in the fall of 2024 or spring of 2025. The building will be located on an adjacent plot just southwest of the existing Technology College building.

Meanwhile, the College of Technology began moving 11 undergraduate majors, 21 undergraduate majors, and 12 graduate programs to the Sugar Land campus with an enrollment of 5,175 students.

For example, the Sugar Land campus will begin offering courses in computer information systems or CIS and mechanical engineering technology from this fall, he said. According to the university’s website, in the spring of 2023, senior CIS classes will be moved, and in the fall of 2023 all CIS classes and electives will be held in Sugar Land.

College of Technology professor David Crawley said the Department of Information and Technology – about 60% of the college – will be relocated by the fall of 2022.

“There’s a lot of interest in having this closeness to the community that a smaller campus provides to the program,” he said. “So there will be a much more intimate interaction with the community.”

Useful partnerships

Neal said that once the move is complete, authorities hope to connect with the Sugar Land and Fort Bend County business communities.

“If the city or county or [FBEDC] He wants to attract big businesses, we have this professional workforce line,” Neal said.

This pipeline includes interdisciplinary programs, including computing and multimedia, engineering and industrial technologies, health sciences and technology management, according to the university’s website.

This comes as the city of Sugar Land reports that its fourth largest industrial sector in 2021 is professional, scientific and technical services. According to JobsEQ, a software tool that provides workforce and employer data, employment data showed 6,255 people, or 8.5% of the city’s workforce, worked in this industry.

The North American Industry Classification System, the standard used by federal statistical agencies to classify business entities by type of economic activity, includes architectural, engineering, and custom design services in this classification, along with computer services and scientific research and development.

Fort Bend County follows a similar trend, with the same industry being the fourth largest in terms of employment with 35,732 employees in 2021, according to data on the FBEDC website.

Both UH and Sugar Land officials agreed that the College of Technology’s move would contribute economically to what the Sugar Land campus already provides.

For example, in 2018-19, the last time the university conducted an economic impact study, the campus brought $46.6 million in economic activity to Sugar Land. Professional and technical services accounted for about $1.5 million of this activity, according to the study.

“We are excited for the workforce [the] “What the move has brought to our businesses and being able to retain and provide exposure to our existing businesses is a big pipeline,” said Elizabeth Huff, the city’s director of economic development.

This pipeline goes all the way to the Sugar Land Innovation Department, which uses data, technology and improvement strategies to foster new ideas and collaboration, according to its website. The department’s team partnered with the College of Technology’s leadership and innovation management minor program to provide semester projects for two classes in the program’s spring 2022 introductory Innovation Principles course.

Crawley said 52 of the 148 students enrolled in the class were involved in term projects that involved creating innovations for Sugar Land to address challenges.

By the fall of 2022, 185 students are expected to enroll in the class.

“This is just our first effort,” Crawley said. “Our plan is to take the entire promotional program … and address it before the challenges and needs of the City of Sugar Land and other communities.”

Also, Reena Varghese, the city’s director of innovation, said that Sugar Land’s innovation department is participating in the college’s innovation engineering fast-track program.

“We also have the professor come and talk to our organization about the whole concept of innovation and what it means so we can continue to expand the opportunities we have both internally and externally through innovation,” he said.

future growth

Over the past five years, the city of Sugar Land has experienced 2.6% growth in its professional, scientific and technical services sector. According to JobsEQ data, this trend looks set to continue with the expectation of 2.8% job growth next year.

Hu said that much of the city of Sugar Land is already built, with 50,000 square feet or more of rare land.

Still, local businesses like Heavy Construction Systems Specialists, a construction software company that has expanded its operations over the past four years, are expanding, Hu said.

Local expansion comes as the region welcomes new tech giants like Amazon, which opened two Fort Bend County locations in 2021: 2303 Hurricane Lane in August, a 2.8 million-square-foot fulfillment center in Fresno and another 3.7 million in October – October. square foot fulfillment center at 10507 Harlem Road, Richmond, opened in May.

Texas House Representative Gary Gates, R-Richmond, played a role in the Legislature allocating funds to UH for the new College of Technology building. Gates represents District 28, which includes Sugar Land, following the state’s redistribution process, which was completed in late October.

Gates said the College of Technology’s move and expansion could serve a growing need in the region’s tech industry.

“We don’t have a lot of industries building facilities, but towards places where the whole industry is – like Amazon for example – many of these jobs are run by a lot of robotics and it takes a special kind of training. To get into that,” he said. “The students from these programs are the other high-tech type of That’s where they can get most of the work.”

This workforce environment serves as a backdrop for UH as Neal is in the early stages of expanding its Sugar Land campus to include a 40-acre industry partnership district. Apart from the College of Technology expansion, the university is working with a consulting firm to create a strategic plan for the land, which should be completed by August.

Dean of the College of Technology Tony Ambler said the area will be used to create investment proposals, which are presented as part of the Build Back Better initiatives, the US Department of Commerce’s program to develop and strengthen regional industry clusters nationwide.

Ambler said that this region will be used to encourage foreign investment from industries to the region, while it will also bring cooperation with the College of Technology and increase economic development.

“The new building enables much of the College of Technology to complete its transition to Sugar Land. [and] Fort Bend [County]” Ambler said in an email. “This will confirm [the college’s] commitment to economic development in the region, with strong ties to educational institutions in the region, as well as economic development councils.”

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