N.C. A&T Celebrates Martin Complex Grand Opening

By Jamie Crockett, Jackie Torok and Todd Simmons / 02/17/2022 Research and Economic Development, College of Engineering

EAST GREENSBORO, N.C. (Feb. 17, 2022) – Nearly 500 students, faculty, staff, alumni and state and local dignitaries, including Gov. Roy Cooper and Greensboro Mayor Nancy Vaughan, celebrated the grand opening of the Harold L. Martin Sr. Engineering Research and Innovation Complex Thursday morning on the campus of North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University.

College of Engineering Dean Robin N. Coger, Ph.D., hosted the standing-room-only event on the grounds adjacent to the Martin Complex at East Market and Dudley streets.

“Thank you to the voters of North Carolina for saying ‘Yes,’ and taking the first step to making all this possible,” said Coger. “When you’re achieving complex goals it requires a commitment to navigate from vision to completion of that journey. And I’m sure you’ll agree that our chancellor, Harold L. Martin Sr., demonstrates that type of commitment for all he continues to achieve for the university.”

“Every single child in North Carolina deserves a sound, basic education. That equity and inclusion should be our guide. That people, all people, should have opportunities for great jobs and careers and that our universities can help to lead the way,” said Cooper. “Chancellor Martin, thank you for all that you do. It is truly a day to celebrate, and I’m going to do it: Aggie Pride!”

Electrical engineering senior Malkam Hawkins, who serves as president of the National Society of Black Engineers at N.C. A&T, UNC Board of Governors Secretary Pearl Burris-Floyd, N.C. Sen. Gladys A. Robinson, Timothy King of the A&T Board of Trustees and A&T Interim Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor of Academic Affairs Tonya Smith-Jackson, Ph.D., also greeted the crowd ahead of Martin’s remarks.

Also in attendance: U.S. Rep. Kathy Manning, N.C. Secretary of Environmental Quality Elizabeth S. Biser, Greensboro City Council members  Goldie Wells and Hugh Holston, Guilford County Commissioner Skip Alston and A&T Chancellor Emeritus Edward R. Fort.

“The investment being made and unveiled today is really a testament to the confidence of our governor, our legislature, our city elected officials, our alumni and business leaders who are assisting us in remarkable and untold ways as we continue to push beyond the possibilities for the future of the university, this community, this region and this state,” said Martin.

Following the program, attendees gathered in front of the Martin Complex for the official ribbon-cutting ceremony before tours of the facility and demonstration of the technology already in use there.

General Information

The Martin Complex, a 130,000-square-foot building equipped with state-of-the-art equipment, open concept laboratories, high bay areas and makerspaces, stands four stories high as a prominent fixture of innovation in the East Greensboro community.

In 2016, North Carolinians passed the $2 billion Connect NC Bond, which funded numerous projects across the state, including updates to state park facilities, construction projects for community colleges, and support for the expansion of STEM offerings at several universities.

A&T received $90 million to bolster its development and training of the next generation of exceptional engineers and computer scientists matriculating through seven College of Engineering (COE) departments and to enhance the research productivity of prominent faculty researchers.

A&T is widely recognized for graduating more African American engineers than any university in America.

A&T broke ground on the construction site in 2018 and held a “topping out” ceremony in the fall of 2019, with 40% of the facility complete. Two years later, contractors finalized building efforts on time and within budget.

The complex is one of several new or proposed facilities in the surrounding area already budding with innovation, collaboration and entrepreneurship.

Features and projects

People-centric, holistic and collaborative spaces. The Martin Complex provides private rooms to emphasize family support, as well as the health and well-being needs of students, staff and faculty members, with makerspace, a meditation room and a lactation room for new parents.

3D Holographic Design Studio. North Carolina A&T is the first historically Black university in the United States to implement the 3D Holographic Design Studio, powered by ARHT Media, is a virtual reality environment that integrates augmented reality, sensor fusion data to project life-like videos. Studio director Salil Desai, Ph.D., an A&T Distinguished Professor of Industrial and Systems Engineering, and his research team plan to use the system for product design and development, digital twinning, medical diagnosis and social engagement.

Vehicle-In-The-Loop Driving Simulator. The Martin Complex’s Reality Emulation and Augmentation Laboratory (REAL) houses the vehicle-in-the-loop driving simulator, allowing researchers to mimic real-world driving conditions and scenarios that can be tested in a controlled environment. Since drivers will begin to notice an increase in autonomous, semi-autonomous and manual cars on the road, this platform will enable Ali Karimmodini, Ph.D., an associate professor in electrical and computer engineering, and his research team to simulate car accidents, analyze driving behavior and monitor a driver’s perception as well as their decision and response rates.

Facility for Intelligent Robotics, Sensing and Telepresence (FIRST). This project, coordinated by mechanical engineering professor Sun Yi, Ph.D., includes Digit – a humanoid robot designed to move in a more dynamic fashion than regular robots do. It has nimble limbs and a torso packed with sensors that will allow it to navigate complex environments and carry out tasks. It has feet with improved balance and stability on a wide variety of surfaces with load-carrying capacity of 40 pounds and sealed joints for all-weather outdoor operation. Spot, a four-legged canine-like robot from Boston Dynamics, will be used for educational and research purposes.

Media Contact Information: jtorok@ncat.edu

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