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JCSU and Messer Construction Raise Final Beam on New Science Center

Charlotte, N.C. (March 3, 2014) – Johnson C. Smith University celebrated the building of its new Science Center today as the final steel beam was hoisted by a crane into place on top of the four-story building under construction on Beatties Ford Road.

Before the beam was lifted by Messer Construction Co., students, administrators and trustees had an opportunity to sign it for posterity. After the signing, guests attended a luncheon to hear how the new center will benefit students pursuing market-driven fields in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM).

The university also announced a $1 million contribution from Duke Energy to support scholarships for STEM and business majors. In addition, the Center for Renewable Energy will be named after Duke Energy. The center supports renewable energy education, research and community outreach. “Every dollar we contribute to education is an investment in the future of our state,” said Stick Williams, president of the Duke Energy Foundation. “We are proud to support programs that help encourage, engage and excite students about energy, math and science. Our partnership with Johnson C. Smith University is laying the foundation for our future leaders.”

The 62,000 square-foot $45 million project is slated for completion in early 2015 and will be the tallest building on campus. It is partially funded by a $25 million grant from The Duke Endowment. The Science Center will enable the College of STEM to increase admission from 300 to 450 students by 2016.

“As we build this new center, we are raising the bar in STEM education by delivering market-driven programs in emerging fields such as cyber security, robotics, bioinformatics, analytics and renewable energy,” said Dr. Ronald L. Carter, president of  Johnson C. Smith University. “We thank Duke Energy, The Duke Endowment and our many other donors for helping students in STEM prepare for viable careers that are in high demand.

The center is designed by Gantt Huberman architects and is designed to include a common atrium, teaching labs, offices and a 250-seat tiered lecture hall/auditorium to accommodate guest lectures, conferences and other multipurpose events.

Not only will the new Science Center benefit university students, the Charlotte community will be able to use the center as a resource through the JCSU STEM Innovation Center, providing training, mentoring, think tanks and STEM summer camps for students, teachers and professionals.

“We at Messer are very proud to help bring to the community an integral piece of the future of Johnson C. Smith University,” said Steve Keckeis, Messer Construction Co. vice president and Charlotte region leader. “‘Building communities’ has long been a main focus of our company, so not only are we looking to reflect that theme with the finished product – the new Science Center – we’re also aiming to reflect it in the means and processes used throughout the construction process. This project has truly been a community effort thus far, as more than 80 percent of the $23 million in construction costs to date have been contracted to more than 50 Charlotte-area companies. Additionally, about 29 percent of the contracts to date – a $6.4 million value – have been awarded to Historically Underutilized (HUB) or minority and women-owned businesses (MWBE). We’ve achieved great momentum on this project and look to continue it as we work to make the new Science Center a reflection of this great community.”             


About Johnson C. Smith University

Founded in 1867, Johnson C. Smith University is an independent, close-knit urban university located in Charlotte, N.C. It has a growing national reputation for integrating the liberal arts with business, the sciences and technology in ways that empower tomorrow’s diverse entrepreneurial citizens and leaders. Offering 22 fields of study to more than 1,300 students from a variety of ethnic, socioeconomic and geographic backgrounds, the university’s excellent academic programs focus on servant leadership, civic engagement and global responsibility. For more information about JCSU, visit or follow the university on social media sites Facebook , TwitterYouTubeLinkedIn and Pinterest.


About Messer Construction Co.

Messer Construction Co. is a construction manager and general contractor providing leadership for complex commercial building projects. An employee-owned company, Messer builds better lives for its customers, communities and each other, and delivers value through quality construction and client experiences. Founded in 1932, Messer’s footprint has grown to nine regional offices located across the Midwest and Southeast. The company is consistently ranked among the country’s 100 largest contractors by Engineering News-Record, and in fiscal 2013,Messer put in place more than $830 million in commercial construction. Messer now stands as one of the nation’s leading health care and higher education builders, and also boasts extensive, award-winning work in the life sciences and industrial market segments. Messer employees live where they work, resulting in the company’s sustained commitment to building better communities. That commitment has remained paramount throughout Messer’s growth, and it is achieved annually through the company’s own foundation and through the time, service and dollars invested by its employee-owners in community organizations and causes.


About Duke Energy

Duke Energy is the largest electric power holding company in the United States with more than $110 billion in total assets. Its regulated utility operations serve approximately 7.2 million electric customers located in six states in the Southeast and Midwest. Its commercial power and international business segments own and operate diverse power generation assets in North America and Latin America, including a growing portfolio of renewable energy assets in the United States. Headquartered in Charlotte, N.C., Duke Energy is a Fortune 250 company traded on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol DUK. More information about the company is available at:  

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