Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources, the Honourable Barnaby Joyce MP, officially opened the state-of-the-art Agriculture Education Building (AEB) at the University of New England today.
The opening of the AEB marks the completion of the fifth and final phase of the $46 million Integrated Agriculture Education Project (IAEP) – one of UNE’s biggest and most comprehensive infrastructure projects to date.
Vice-Chancellor Professor Annabelle Duncan believes that the building provides a vibrant precinct where education, training and research will flourish.
“The new facilities of the AEB allow us to take the lead when it comes to training the next generation of agricultural and environmental scientists. Job advertisements for skilled agricultural professionals are currently outstripping applications. Now is the time to train graduates with the required qualities to address those shortfalls,” Prof. Duncan said.
In his address before opening the building, Mr Joyce observed that agriculture is more important than ever for global food and fibre security and for the Australian economy, and that Armidale and UNE is playing a huge role in these areas.
“More young Australians are seizing the opportunity to study agriculture and agriculture-related disciplines here at UNE, and soon they will be able to extend their careers right here with the relocation of the APVMA and the ongoing development of this Agricultural Centre of Excellence,” Mr Joyce said.
Students have access to modern teaching laboratories and lecture rooms while researchers can use specialised workrooms, such as the soundproof analysis laboratory chamber, to study their work.
“We share this space with CSIRO, who have offices on the upper floor, and who supervise some of our PhD students,” Prof. Duncan said, “adding to our growing collaboration with industry and providing industry-linked networking opportunities for our students.”
The building also houses the region’s first Natural History Museum with the skeleton of a carnivorous dinosaur from Lightning Ridge, as well as a diverse collection of animals, plants, and minerals on display.
“We plan for the Museum to become a central repository for regional natural history collections and to be used as a learning resource by school groups. We are very keen to nuture the next generation of scientists,” Prof. Duncan said.
The AEB cost just over $27 million to build and is a joint funding initiative between Government through its Education Investment Fund, CSIRO and UNE.
The building was designed by Francis-Jones Morehen Thorp, project managed by the Coffey’s Group and built by Cockram Construction.
The Natural History Museum will be officially opened to the public as part of the VC’s Open Day series of events in April.
UNE Ag Ed 3: UNE Chancellor Dr James Harris, UNE Vice-Chancellor Professor Annabelle Duncan and Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce at the opening of UNE’s new Agriculture Education Building.