The University of Western Australia's engineering faculty is set to undergo a total transformation via millions of dollars in funding provided by BHP Billiton.

The university (UWA) has announced that BHP Billiton has made a $17 million funding commitment to its New Century Campaign, the majority of which will be directed toward the full overhaul of the university’s engineering faculty.

A sum of $12 million dollars will be given to the Faculty of Engineering, Computing and Mathematics over a decade-long period, much of which will be used for the creation of a world class “engineering zone” comprised of open classrooms and conference centres.

According to UWA chancellor Michael Chaney, the university’s engineering faculty has long been due for a revamp given that its buildings are amongst the oldest on campus and no longer “really fit for purpose anymore.”

Several million will spent on a feasibility study and plan for the new buildings, while a further $10 billion will be used for the construction of the facilities themselves.

BHP will also provide the UWA Business School with $5 million over a five-year period to spend on scholarships, fellowships and visiting professors, with the new positions including a BHP Billiton Fellow in Engineering for Remote Operations.

The scholarship funding places a strong emphasis on encouraging women in the engineering profession to expand their professional capabilities. There are 20 new scholarship places reserved for female engineers, providing them with the opportunity to pursue business degrees or business-related courses.

The $17 million investment builds on a significant contribution already made by BHP to education in Western Australia. Over the past five years, the mining giant has provided $55 million to the sector at the primary, secondary and tertiary levels, as well as vocational training and employment programs.

Winthrop professor John Dell, Dean of the Faculty of Engineering, Computing and Mathematics, said he expects the support provided by BHP to make UWA a leading centre in the nation  for the study of engineering.

‘This investment in our knowledge economy will help UWA maintain its place at the top of the engineering echelon,” Dell said. “UWA and BHP Billiton’s collective focus on engineering for remote operations will provide creative solutions to complex problems and support Australia’s ongoing economic success.”