After 45 years without a new academic building, Wentworth Institute of Technology on Wednesday celebrated the opening of its four-story Center for Engineering, Innovation and Sciences.

The 75,000-square-foot building on Huntington Avenue — which features a 3-D printing center, biology and chemistry labs, and collaboration spaces — will help the school continue to expand, said Wentworth’s president, Zorica Pantic.

Enrollment at the college has leaped 20 percent since 2005, Pantic said, from 3,500 to 4,200 students. The $55 million building has floors for biomedical engineering and biological engineering, two of the 10 new undergraduate programs Wentworth has introduced in the last decade.


“To continue to support these new programs, we needed a new academic building,” she said. Students will “be able to apply everything they learn in class in experiments, do undergraduate research, and really participate in the innovation process.”

The idea is to give students real-world learning experiences, said David Wahlstrom, vice president for business at Wentworth. As part of that effort, they were given a chance to be involved in the construction process itself, Wahlstrom said. The college hosted regular tours of the site, as well as a lecture series about various aspects of the project. Students also worked with specialists in areas ranging from design to subsurface soil to steel.

“Being a competitive school means taking the level of student achievement up a notch and offering them the opportunity to participate in product development and be innovative,” he said.

Junior construction management major Shannon Sturtz worked on-site every day during the summer, through a co-op position she held at Gilbane Building Co. , the Providence-based construction company that managed the project. She served as a liaison of sorts between architects, the project foreman, and subcontractors.

“When you’re on a co-op, generally it’s only three months, so you’re only really able to see [a project] for the time you’re there,” Sturtz said. “I was able to see it from the beginning to the end because it’s been on my campus this whole time.”


Allison Hagan can be reached at allison.hagan@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @allisonhxgan.