LOWELL -- Gov. Deval Patrick will today announce a $20 million state investment to modernize UMass Lowell's Perry Hall, home to the school's engineering program.

The spending will pay for improvements to existing laboratories and classrooms and also allow for the addition of new research and academic space which had in the past been used for other purposes.

Research space and the controls in the labs, in the building constructed in 1952 on UMass Lowell's North Campus, also will also be updated.

"On behalf of the university, I would like to thank Governor Patrick, the Legislature and the Lowell delegation for their support for this important project," UMass Lowell Chancellor Marty Meehan said in a prepared statement.

"Perry Hall has been one of UMass Lowell's core science and engineering facilities for more than 60 years. With these upgrades, it will remain a place where students, faculty and industry come together for cutting-edge research and education for decades to come."

The renovations at Perry Hall are expected to be the first part of a larger project to upgrade the university's science and engineering facilities to make sure UML offers modern facilities to its students, according to Patrick's office.

Among the departments UMass Lowell's Francis College of Engineering houses in Perry Hall are: Chemical Engineering, Civil Engineering, Electrical and Computer Engineering and mechanical Engineering.

Patrick was expected to make the announcement about the funds for the Perry Hall modernization while speaking today in Haverhill at the Merrimack Valley Chamber of Commerce.

At the event, he also was slated to announce investing $7 million to modernize the Spurk Building on Northern Essex Community College's Haverhill Campus, a $900,000 MassWorks award to connect Northern Essex Community College Allied Health Center with Lawrence's downtown, and a $5 million MassWorks award for the Merrimack Street Renaissance Project in Haverhill.

"Growth requires investment, and these investments in education, infrastructure will bring growth and opportunity to the Merrimack Valley and beyond," Patrick said in a prepared statement. "If we want to expand opportunity in our Commonwealth, this is what government must do and do well."

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