WSU’s new building: ‘the biggest thing Everett has ever done in terms of its future’

Washington State University is opening a $64 million building in Everett to support a growing program in engineering.

She was a self-described aviation buff who earned her private pilot’s license after high school, but when she got up in the air, Jennifer Johnson decided that piloting a plane was kind of boring.

What she really liked was the stuff under the hood — the complex systems that make up a commercial airplane. But Johnson, who by her late 20s was married and living in Marysville with a toddler, couldn’t pick up and move somewhere to earn the engineering degree she’d need to do that kind of work.

Then in 2014, an opportunity opened up close to home. Washington State University began offering engineering degrees in Everett, using space on the Everett Community College campus. Johnson brushed up on her math and science skills, then enrolled.

She’s now a mechanical engineer for Aviation Technical Services in Everett — a dream job that allows her to do engineering work on airplane systems, including repairs and modifications.

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This month, WSU Everett will cut the ribbon on a $64 million building that can accommodate many more students like Johnson who can’t move to the college’s main campus in Pullman but want to earn an engineering degree and some of the other degrees WSU also offers.

For many Everett politicians, the building is the culmination of 23 years of work to establish a four-year university in Snohomish County.

Pat McClain, a former governmental-affairs director for the city of Everett, says he was moved to tears when he and his wife attended the first graduation ceremony for students of WSU Everett a few years ago.

“You listened to the stories of young people and what it took to get their degree — and it wasn’t that long ago they couldn’t get that degree in Snohomish County,” he said.

McClain, who now serves on the WSU Everett Advisory Council, calls the opening of the new building “the biggest thing Everett has ever done in terms of its future.”

The 95,000-square-foot glass-and-brick building, across the street from Everett Community College, is one of the tallest, and newest, buildings north of downtown.

Much of the building is designed for students studying the three engineering degrees WSU offers in Everett: mechanical, electrical and software. It’s filled with state-of-the-art equipment to help…

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