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COLLEGE STATION, Texas -- Dignitaries from Texas A&M University and The Texas A&M University System as well as movers and shakers of the state’s petrochemical industry were on hand today when Texas A&M Engineering dedicated its newest facility, the Jack E. Brown Engineering Building. The seven-story, 205,000-gross square-feet facility -- constructed at a cost of $38 million -- is located at the corner of University Drive and Spence Street. The structure opened to students in January and includes state-of-the-art laboratories, classrooms, seminar and conference rooms, faculty offices and administrative headquarters for the newly named Artie McFerrin Department of Chemical Engineering. "The field of chemical engineering is young, established just over a century ago," said Erle Nye, vice-chairman of the Board of Regents of the A&M System. "The greatest accomplishments of the chemical engineering profession are yet to come. Texas A&M has always been near the forefront of these achievements, and now, thanks to the generosity of Jack and Frances Brown, our university can climb even higher in this critical area." Lead donors Frances and Jack Brown were honored at the ceremony along with other founding contributors for their support of the new building. A formal portrait of the Browns, which graces the first-floor lobby, was unveiled, and each founding contributor received a personalized memento. In a surprise announcement, the Browns learned that their adult children had established the Brown-Ingram Gallery on the second-floor mezzanine. Dr. Peggy Brown Ingram, Class of 1997, of The Woodlands; Van M. Brown of Mystic, Conn.; and Patrick A. Brown, Class of 1980, of Midland created the endowment so the entire family could be recognized as founding contributors to the Jack E. Brown Building. A&M System Chancellor Robert McTeer, Jr., Vice Chancellor and Dean of Engineering G. Kemble Bennett, chemical engineering department Head Kenneth R. Hall and AIChE student chapter President Michael L. Adams joined Nye and Texas A&M President Robert M. Gates in honoring the building’s founding contributors. "This building surrounding us holds not only bricks and mortar but also the promise for solutions that will impact the lives of people across the globe," Bennett said. "Because of the efforts of so many, we are able to gather today to celebrate the completion of a premier facility that primarily benefits the students and faculty in our chemical engineering programs." The architecturally distinctive building has safety features that go beyond those customary for academic construction. Classrooms and computer laboratories are on the first floor, and departmental offices as well as the TEES Mary Kay O’Connor Process Safety Center are on the second. The remaining five floors contain research laboratories that will handle approximately $5 million in research for 2004-05. These include a shared equipment laboratory for materials research and a floor of clean rooms. In development is a supercomputer cluster, which currently includes 100 Apple G5 nodes (200 processors) and links to a similar setup at Texas A&M-Qatar to provide international supercomputing. The department will continue adding G5 and other nodes in the future. Hall said, "The opening of this structure collected under one roof all the departmental research previously spread among four buildings. It provides an environment in which faculty and future engineers can model, test and discover solutions to problems impacting the health and economic welfare of our state and nation. On behalf of the faculty, staff and students who work and study here, I sincerely thank everyone who has worked and given to make the Jack E. Brown Engineering Building a reality." Jack E. Brown, Class of 1946, holds degrees in petroleum engineering and mechanical engineering from Texas A&M and is a principal in Wagner and Brown Ltd., one of Texas’s largest independent oil and gas producers. He and his wife, Frances, are longtime supporters of Texas A&M Engineering. Their generosity to Texas A&M includes the lead private gift toward construction of the Jack E. Brown Engineering Building and numerous other endowments including the Jack E. and Frances Brown Chair in Engineering. Other founding contributors to the building include the late Ernest A. Baetz, Jr., Class of 1947; Ray B. Nesbitt, Class of 1955; T. Michael and Olive E. O’Connor; and Gene L. Tromblee, Class of 1970. Also BASF Corp., The Dow Chemical Co., Fluor Corp., Rohm and Haas Co. and The Shell Oil Co. Foundation. Building benefactors include Bechtel Foundation; Michael J. Ginty, Class of 1979; Robert H. Schas, Class of 1944; Norman J. Tetlow, Class of 1966; and Bruce Warren. Established more than 50 years ago, Texas A&M’s chemical engineering program emerged in the last quarter-century as a national leader for chemical engineering research, now ranking in the top 10 nationwide based on annual expenditures. Its undergraduate and graduate programs are nationally ranked at 18th and 25th, respectively. The department’s fall 2004 enrollment was 471 undergraduate and 131 graduate students. Texas A&M chemical engineering graduates are heavily recruited (887 interviews by 127 employers during the 2003-04 school year) by the petrochemical and refining sectors and a variety of other industries including semiconductor, food processing and paper. Facilities named for Brown Building contributors