‘Day On The Job’ program mentors engineering students with tour of Ellen Noël renovations

Project architect and principal with Parkhill RJ Lopez, center, talks to engineering students from University of Texas of the Permian Basin STEM Academy Wednesday at the Ellen Noel Art Museum. Michael Bauer|Odessa American

Engineering students from the University of Texas Permian Basin’s STEM Academy were given a first-hand look at the construction going on at the Ellen Noël Art Museum Wednesday.

Currently, the museum is undergoing its Capital Enhancement Project.

The event was a part of the “Day On The Job” program that mentors engineering students through a facilities tour and interaction with representatives from Parkhill and Lee Lewis Construction.

Students were able to get up close and personal experience on the renovation that is occurring at the museum and had opportunities to engage with professional engineers.

“Today, we did a facilities tour with UTPB Stem Academy students,” Ellen Noël Art Museum Director of Marketing and Development Jon Montgomery said. “This was basically opening up our facilities so that the engineering students can ask questions to our contractors and engineers about the renovation that’s happening at the Ellen Noël. We’re in the first phase where we’ve broken ground and taken walls down and we’re getting everything cleaned up. We’re moving on to the next part of the construction.”

The project is expected to be finished by either late 2025 or early 2026.

“We’re super excited because not only will this make the museum look more attractive but it’s going to be a museum where we’re increasing our capacity to provide education programming and exhibitions,” Montgomery said. “Education is a paramount importance to us here so this is going to help us facilitate more educational opportunities.”

Engineering students from University of Texas Permian Basin STEM Academy pay attention during a tour of the Ellen Noel Art Museum that is currently being renovated Wednesday at the construction site. Michael Bauer|Odessa American

Montgomery said that there were a lot of questions from the students on Wednesday about what it takes to a get a project such as this from idea to creation.

“These students have grown up in Odessa and have come to the museum in their lifetime,” Montgomery said. “Some of the questions they had was how the gallery spacing is changing. In their heads, they’re being able to compare what they’ve seen in the past to what’s coming in the future.”

Parkhill is a multidisciplinary firm that provides comprehensive architectural and engineering design services for projects in government, commercial and institutional sectors.

Project architect and principal with Parkhill RJ Lopez talked more about the plans at the museum.

“The previous museum was about 20,000 square foot and we’re adding 12,000 square feet so it’ll be about 32,000 square feet when we’re done,” Lopez said.

For him, it’s been a privilege to work on this project.

“It’s every architect’s dream to work on a art museum, especially one that is pushing the boundaries and try to serve the community a better museum than what we had before,” Lopez said. “It’s been inspirational and a wonderful experience.”