The Texas A&M University System has announced plans to spend $150 million to begin work on a research and development campus near Bryan that will offer some students a new path toward a college degree and help companies move ideas from the laboratory to the marketplace.
The university says the new campus will rise on the former Bryan Air Base, a 2,000-acre World War II facility west of the main Texas A&M University campus in College Station. A&M acquired the base in 1962. It has been known as the Riverside Campus and will be renamed RELLIS Campus.
Plans for the campus call for a cluster of seven new buildings to encourage the private sector to develop secure research facilities adjacent to the site. Construction on the first building could begin as early as September.
The focus of the research facilities will include robotics, driverless and connected vehicles, advanced manufacturing, large-scale testing, as well as smart power grids and water systems.
The site also will have an education center that will offer four-year degree programs to students not accepted into Texas A&M University. System Chancellor John Sharp estimated that as many as 10,000 students eventually could be studying at the education center.
Officials say that students could start their college careers at the center and or transfer from community colleges to complete their college degrees. They could be accepted later at Texas A&M University or choose a degree program from another Texas A&M System university.
The education center also would be available for continuing education, short courses and other professional development programs.
The initial $150 million investment is being provided from state appropriations or gifts from donors. The funding includes $25 million to demolish 32 old buildings, rebuild roads and update utilities.
The base’s chapel and two hangars will be preserved and renovated in recognition of the site’s role in training pilots for World War II.
MORE. Virtual tour of plans for the RELLIS campus: