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Gates Opens Computer Science Complex

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Bill Gates

Bill Gates made an appearance on campus for the March 6 opening of the Bill & Melinda Gates Computer Science Complex and Dell Computer Science Hall, a 140,000-square-foot, $120 million complex for the university’s top-10 ranked Department of Computer Science.

The computer science complex received $30 million from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation for its construction. The Michael & Susan Dell Foundation contributed $10 million to the building, which was part of a $50 million May 2006 gift to the University of Texas System to support a variety of programs in technology and human health.

“Technology plays an increasingly important role in almost every aspect of our lives and will shape the future of commerce, communication, health care, and much else,” said Bill Powers, president of the university. “Advances in basic computer science are driving this development, and the Bill & Melinda Gates Computer Science Complex will serve as a catalyst for progress in this field. It also will make our Department of Computer Science an even greater economic driver for the state of Texas.”

Following the ribbon-cutting ceremony, in which Gates was joined by an artificially intelligent robot, he spoke to a group of computer science students and faculty.

Complex strengthens impact of Computer Science Department

The Computer Science Department is home to more than 1,700 undergraduates and 42 faculty members. It produces 20 percent of computer science graduates in Texas and 18 percent of all computer science graduates from top-10 departments across the United States.

Through technology development and workforce production, the department is credited with an $8.7 billion per year strategic economic impact on Texas. Faculty members and students excel in areas such as cybersecurity, computer systems, artificial intelligence, and robotics.

Complex encourages collaboration and innovation

The 140,000-square-foot Bill & Melinda Gates Computer Science Complex (GDC) is located on Speedway and consists of two buildings and a connecting glass atrium. The north building is named Dell Computer Science Hall and connects with the O’Donnell ACES Building.

The complex, designed by Pelli Clarke Pelli, features 10 “research clusters,” which are designed to encourage collaboration and innovation with large glass-walled labs surrounded by a mix of faculty, graduate student and visitor offices, open discussion areas, and a large conference room.

The building also features an open atrium for student community-building and studying, a lecture hall, dedicated spaces for the Turing Scholars undergraduate honors program and other computer science student groups, computing labs, and study lounges.

The total cost of the complex was $120 million. In addition to the $40 million in private funding, the University of Texas System committed $20 million and The University of Texas at Austin committed $60 million.

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