SDSU breaks ground on Sciences and Engineering Laboratories in Brawley
Set to open in fall 2025, the new state-of-the-art building is one part of SDSU’s commitment to meeting the STEM and both the current and future geothermal energy sector demands of ‘Lithium Valley.’
With ceremonial shovels in hand, San Diego State University leaders, joined by elected officials and community partners, ushered in a new chapter in SDSU Imperial Valley history with the official groundbreaking of the SDSU Imperial Valley Sciences and Engineering Laboratories in Brawley.
As first announced in May 2022, the project is a result of $80 million in state funding from Gov. Gavin Newsom and university investments to expand sciences, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) opportunities, tying into regional plans for major economic development as California’s “Lithium Valley.” The facility is set to open in fall 2025.
“This groundbreaking is more than a building — today we break ground on the future of the Imperial Valley,” Newsom said. “This state-of-the-art teaching and research hub at San Diego State University Imperial Valley will advance access to skill-building and career pathways to high-opportunity, green jobs in California's Lithium Valley — empowering our communities and protecting our planet for generations to come.”
The groundbreaking was held on Friday, Feb. 9 with more than 100 faculty, staff, students, elected officials, partners and community members in attendance.
The Sciences and Engineering Laboratories will house a STEM Innovation Hub for students and faculty to collaborate, while also incorporating a design that speaks to the culture and identity of the surrounding Valley community. The 37,000-square-foot space is also designed with flexibility to support future programs and add instructional capacity to SDSU Imperial Valley.
“The groundbreaking is the realization of a vision shared by SDSU, the state of California, and the Imperial Valley community,” said SDSU President Adela de la Torre. “Not only will our Sciences and Engineering Laboratories significantly expand educational access within the region, it also builds on the many investments we have made over the last six years. This groundbreaking is a testament to our continued commitment to the Valley community, to which SDSU Imperial Valley is fortunate to have been a part of for more than six decades.”
Aligned with Imperial County’s Lithium Valley initiative, this new hub is one part of the university's commitment to meeting both current and future geothermal energy sector demands. The STEM Innovation Hub will deliver skilled, highly educated professionals who are ready to dive into the local workforce, empowering the Imperial County community.
“I am proud of the work we have done to prioritize higher education pathways. This campus is going to create jobs and bring opportunities to our community that will change lives,” said Sen. Steve Padilla. “As the Lithium Valley becomes a key part of the world economy, the students trained here will be a crucial piece of that future.”
Sen. Ben Hueso, and Assemblymember Eduardo Garcia led the charge to secure $80 million in additional state funding, adding to the $15 million SDSU had committed to expanding SDSU Imperial Valley.
“Breaking ground on SDSU Imperial Valley's Sciences and Engineering Laboratories brings us closer to delivering game-changing education and economic empowerment to our region. Our $80 million investment from the State of California has helped to make this milestone a reality. With this construction project, we also lay the foundation for a robust, reimagined, and more prosperous Imperial Valley," Garcia said.
"The new Sciences and Engineering Laboratories, which includes a STEM Innovation District, is a vital component of our community-driven Lithium Valley vision as we aim to strengthen high-skilled workforce opportunities and uplift the economic circumstances of our area,” Garcia also said.
The new investment for SDSU Imperial Valley marks a significant expansion to its sciences and health-related academic offerings. Currently, SDSU Imperial Valley, Brawley primarily houses classrooms and practicing clinical spaces for undergraduate and graduate nursing students.
“We have been providing high-quality academic degrees for more than 60 years in Imperial Valley. It’s our time to expand to serve the workforce needs of our region,” said Guillermina Gina Nuñez-Mchiri, SDSU Imperial Valley dean. “Our new Sciences and Engineering Laboratories will not only prepare the next generation of leaders in Imperial Valley, but it will also create a space for community, collaboration and knowledge within our staff, faculty and students. Our campus community will be at the forefront of Lithium Valley’s workforce development.”
Timed with the groundbreaking, SDSU has launched a new webpage detailing how the university is meeting the higher education and workforce needs of the growing region, including those of Imperial Valley’s transformational Lithium Valley initiative.