By Bobby Tanzilo Senior Editor/Writer Published Oct 23, 2017 at 2:02 PM

Thanks to the largest gift from an alumnus in school history, Milwaukee School of Engineering will erect a new $34 million academic facility on the northwest corner of Milwaukee and State Streets.

The announcement was made Monday at the school's Kern Center before a packed gym of students, staff and others.

"It's a special day for MSOE," said university Chairman Dr. Scott Moon.

"This new building is the first step in transforming the heart of campus to ensure current and future students, faculty and staff, and industry leaders and employers are at the forefront of evolving technology," said MSOE President Dr. John Walz. "Put simply, MSOE is positioned to be a national leader in artificial intelligence education."

The Dwight and Dian Diercks Computational Science Hall is being funded by Dwight Diercks, who earned his bachelor’s degree in computer science and engineering in 1990.

From left, Dian Diercks, Dwight Diercks and MSOE President Dr. John Walz at Monday's announcement.
(PHOTO: Bobby Tanzilo)

Diercks – senior vice president at the California-based NVIDIA, a technology company that focuses on artificial intelligence, supercomputing and visual computing – is also an MSOE regent and holds an Honorary Doctor of Engineering degree from the university.

Groundbreaking is expected to take place sometime in early- to mid-2018 with expected completion in 2020.

"With this," Diercks told the audience Monday, "MSOE will have a data center with the mechanics of what's required for a supercomputer."

And, indeed that GPU-accelerated supercomputer (pictured below) is a major component of the project. It will be available to students, faculty and staff at MSOE, but also to businesses across a range of industries that will be invited to collaborate with the university in using it.

The building was designed by Milwaukee’s Uihlein-Wilson architects.

The lot was once the site of the First Welsh Presbyterian Church, built in 1854 and purchased a century later by MSOE, which long used the building as its bookstore. That building was razed in 1988 and the site has been a surface parking lot ever since.

Here are some key features of the new building:

  • 64,000 square feet on four floors
  • Another 18,000 square feet of underground parking
  • State-of-the-art data center to house GPU-accelerated supercomputer serving students and industry
  • 8 contemporary classrooms
  • 13 innovative teaching laboratories
  • 28 faculty and staff offices
  • 9 offices and work spaces for corporate and academic partnerships
  • 250-seat auditorium for guest lectures and other public events.

Bobby Tanzilo Senior Editor/Writer

Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., where he lived until he was 17, Bobby received his BA-Mass Communications from UWM in 1989 and has lived in Walker's Point, Bay View, Enderis Park, South Milwaukee and on the East Side.

He has published three non-fiction books in Italy – including one about an event in Milwaukee history, which was published in the U.S. in autumn 2010. Four more books, all about Milwaukee, have been published by The History Press.

With his most recent band, The Yell Leaders, Bobby released four LPs and had a songs featured in episodes of TV's "Party of Five" and "Dawson's Creek," and films in Japan, South America and the U.S. The Yell Leaders were named the best unsigned band in their region by VH-1 as part of its Rock Across America 1998 Tour. Most recently, the band contributed tracks to a UK vinyl/CD tribute to the Redskins and collaborated on a track with Italian novelist Enrico Remmert.

He's produced three installments of the "OMCD" series of local music compilations for and in 2007 produced a CD of Italian music and poetry.

In 2005, he was awarded the City of Asti's (Italy) Journalism Prize for his work focusing on that area. He has also won awards from the Milwaukee Press Club.

He can be heard weekly on 88Nine Radio Milwaukee talking about his "Urban Spelunking" series of stories.