N.C. A&T starts old YMCA demo, breaks ground on engineering complex

EAST GREENSBORO, N.C. (Oct. 30, 2018) -- Dignitaries from the state of North Carolina, City of Greensboro, North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University and Hayes-Taylor YMCA came to campus to witness the end of an era and usher in a generation of fostering innovation and economic development in East Greensboro.

The crowd of university and community members, including N.C. Sen. Gladys A. Robinson, University of North Carolina Board of Governors member Pearl Burris-Floyd and N.C. A&T’s Board of Trustee members, attended the start of demolition of the former Hayes-Taylor YMCA at the corner East Market and Dudley streets and the groundbreaking for the Engineering Research and Innovation Complex (ERIC).

“When I think of the history of this YMCA and A&T, I think of the collaboration we’ve seen in this community and who has come out of this Y and this campus,” Robinson said. “Together we grow, and we produce the best, and we lift each other up.”

 N.C. A&T is the largest producer of African-American engineers and African-American women engineers in the country. STEM jobs continue to grow, as does the need for qualified applicants to fill them. The ERIC will be an interdisciplinary facility to prepare students for careers and provide them with the technology, laboratories, studios and other spaces to cultivate creativity and encourage innovation.

 “North Carolina A&T is a leader in STEM education, and our history in engineering starts with our inception in 1891,” said Chancellor Harold L. Martin Sr. “The ERIC is a continued investment in our students to transform their lives and careers in the future.”

The old YMCA was built in the late 1930s for African Americans in Greensboro. The Cone family promised the black community $50,000 to build the YMCA if they could raise the money to purchase the land.

“In 1939, families were selling fish dinners to earn the $5,000 to build the Y, so it’s not without a tingle of regret that we have to tear the old girl down,” said Larry Burnett, executive director of Hayes-Taylor, who volunteered at the Y when he was student at A&T. “But now, thanks to A&T, we have a state-of-the-art Y to serve our community better.” Hayes-Taylor YMCA moved to its location on Florida Street in 2015.

Robin Coger, Ph.D. dean of the College of Engineering (COE), said that faculty, staff, students and alumni of the college and other university entities had a lot of input on what the ERIC will be.

“Our engineering advisory board traveled coast to coast to cutting-edge engineering buildings at research-intensive campuses to look at and think about what ERIC should have,” she said. “We all looked at what capabilities are needed in the labs and educational spaces of the ERIC. I’ve been honored to represent ideas and thoughts on the complex.”

In the 2016 primary election, North Carolina voters approved the $2-billion Connect NC bond that included a $90-million provision for N.C. A&T. The ERIC will deepen the university’s engineering instruction and research capacities, help the university foster partnerships with local and regional industry and create job opportunities that directly benefit the entire community as companies seek to meet the global demands of the future.

Demolition of the old YMCA should be complete in a few weeks. Construction on the ERIC should begin in the spring, and the complex is scheduled to open in late 2021.