Located on the border of Texas and Arkansas, Texas A&M University-Texarkana (TAMUT) is an upper-level university offering programs and courses to approximately 1,650 junior, senior, and graduate students. In an effort to attract a greater number of students from Northeast Texas and three neighboring states, the university recently began construction of a new 300-plus acre campus situated about five miles from the existing campus on the north side of the city near Bringle Lake. The first structure currently under development is the three-level, approximately 48,000-square-foot Science & Technology Building, which will house bioscience, information sciences, and the school's proposed electrical engineering program.

“The Science & Technology Building will serve as the central location or HUB for the campus network connectivity,” says Tony Burrow, vice president, electrical division, for Nantze Electric Co., the contractor selected to perform the project's electrical work. Headquartered in Texarkana, Texas, Nantze Electric is an electrical and data services company that typically employs 35 to 50 field workers and is registered and licensed in seven states.

According to Burrow, several aspects of the building's electrical systems make this project unique. For example, occupancy sensors have been used in almost every room and hallway to ensure energy efficiency. In addition, dimming and shade control used in the tiered classrooms coordinate with the audiovisual system for an integrated end product.

“A separate HUB room was designed and constructed with an extensive underground conduit duct bank system feeding into the building,” notes Burrow. “The room was filled with server racks and wire management products, and lined with multiple layers of flex tray around the room for cable pathways.”

Some of the project's most significant challenges, however, existed in the coordination of all tradesmen/crafts on the project.

“The specs called for the structural concrete floors to be sleeved for the placement of conduits, and core drilling of the structural floors was not allowed by specs,” Burrows explains. “Because these sleeves were not allowed to pass through beams, it made for some very interesting preplanning in the contemplation of penetrations. Then there was the actual issue of keeping the sleeves upright and in the correct locations during the concrete pours. All systems — electrical, telecom, data, audiovisual, security, fire alarm, and access control — were required to be in conduits or in cable trays throughout the project.”

To accomplish the majority of the work required above the drop ceiling before the HVAC ductwork and plumbing was put in place, Nantze Electric relied on extensive preplanning. Nevertheless, Burrows says there was concern about having to perform rework once the other crafts started on their above-ceiling work.

“In cooperation with the mechanical contractor, we spent several weeks on coordination drawings,” he says. “Fortunately, most of the mistakes and rework issues were caught prior to our install. We are certainly walking away from this project as big believers in preplanning. It's worth the time and headache many times over.”

The project will be completed in June.