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Construction Begins on Whitworth’s New PACCAR Engineering Building

May 29, 2024

Construction is set to begin in late May on the new PACCAR Engineering Building at Whitworth University. The $20 million-plus, world-class facility will enable engineering and physics students to do in-depth work that explores, analyzes and materializes engineering solutions. With dedicated research spaces for high-performance computing, photonics, MEMS (micro-electromechanical systems) and semiconductors, the building will allow for a wide range of undergraduate collaborations with instructors and industry professionals. 

The Whitworth Engineering & Physics Department is currently housed in the Eric Johnston Science Center, which was built in 1967 and will continue to house some classrooms, offices and lab space needed for the program. The new PACCAR building, located across from Johnston Science Center and adjacent to Baldwin-Jenkins Hall, will expand the program’s capabilities by providing over 20,000 square feet of space and will be equipped with the following upgrades for students and faculty:

Clean room, ISO 7 (Class 10000), with HEPA filtration and airlock to support faculty and student research

Two research laboratories to develop new technologies in photonics and micro-electromechanical systems that will shape the future of engineering

Two design laboratories to encourage hands-on experimentation and development of practical solutions to problems 

Rapid prototyping and metal fabrication facilities with 3D printers, CNC machines, laser cutters and electronics benches to create prototypes 

Computational lab with commercial and custom software to begin the design process by modeling mechanical and electrical components

Collaborative spaces to foster teamwork in assembly, testing and design iteration

“Inspired by the success of our alumni over the last several decades in various fields of engineering, we designed – from the ground up – an integrated engineering program to equip our graduates to engage in emerging technologies,” says Kamesh Sankaran, professor of engineering & physics and department chair. “This facility will allow our students to work collaboratively with peers and faculty mentors to expand the boundaries of our knowledge and create engineering solutions to real-life problems. Through this, we are excited to fulfill the mission of Whitworth in this new sector in a new era of the university’s history.”

The facility will also be the new home to Whitworth’s 16-year partnership with the NASA Washington Space Grant Consortium and the university’s ongoing NASA CubeSat Launch Initiative work. 

Whitworth created its four-year engineering degree in 2017 with the goal of graduating 24 students per year by 2029. By accelerating students’ exposure to hands-on learning with direct faculty guidance, Whitworth is preparing its undergraduates to excel within graduate-level programs and high-tech jobs. 

Recent graduates from the program are working in spacecraft systems, quantum information networks, mechanical engineering and manufacturing engineering at facilities like Lockheed Martin and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.

Construction on the PACCAR Engineering Building is expected to last about 18 months. We wish to thank Integrus Architecture and Bouten Construction for their tremendous work on this project. Students should begin attending classes and labs in the building by January 2026. 

About PACCAR Inc.:

PACCAR Inc.,, is a $35 billion Washington-based company and is a global technology leader in the design and manufacturing of trucks under the Kenworth, Peterbilt and DAF nameplates. The PACCAR Foundation grants millions of dollars each year for education, social services and the arts.

About Whitworth University:

Located in Spokane, Wash., Whitworth is a private Christian liberal arts university affiliated with the Presbyterian church. The university, which has an enrollment of about 2,500 students, offers more than 100 undergraduate and graduate degree programs.


Trisha Coder, media relations manager, Whitworth University, (509) 777-4703 or