NEW BEDFORD — The auditorium of the newly constructed Irwin M. Jacobs Elementary School filled with educators and local and state politicians on Friday morning to officially dedicate the building to its namesake.

Dr. Irwin M. Jacobs, joined by his wife, Joan Jacobs, was honored at the event for his contributions to New Bedford Public Schools and education overall. The former Physics professor at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, business owner, and inventor is a New Bedford native who grew up in the north end, with his history of dedication to education and the community speaking for itself.

“It really is a great honor to have a school named after you.  I mean that is quite remarkable. It’s something we’re going to remember for a long time, that we’re going to come back hopefully and be able to visit often and see how the students are progressing,” Jacobs said. “We did have an opportunity to visit the school while it was under construction and were very impressed with all the thought that went into this building, the planning, and all of the special facilities.”

Irwin M. Jacobs speaks during the dedication of the school in his name. Tim Dunn/Townsquare Media.

The $36 million building, built by Collin’s Construction, replaces the previous structure that stood for nearly 100 years and features a modern design coupled with modern technology. On the top floor students have access to state of the art facilities including a library with an ocean view, an art room, and a science-tech area that features a rooftop outdoor classroom.

On the first floor, the school has a comforting and open front office area that leads down a corridor consisting of classrooms and eventually to the cafetorium and gymnasium.

The Massachusetts School Board Association (MSBA) footed the majority of the bill, paying a total $22 million to cover 61-percent of the cost. CEO of MSBA Jim McDonald says the association’s mission is “to support the design and construction of educationally appropriate, flexible, sustainable, and cost effective public facilities.”

“But what it really boils down to is that we need to be building schools for our future and our kids, and we need to be giving them the opportunity to be educated in a modern, clean, and safe facility,” McDonald continued. “There’s no better example of that than what we’re seeing today with the new Jacobs Elementary School.”

Dr. Jacobs also spoke of his career, one that included 13 years as an MIT professor before he went on to found Qualcomm – a world leader in next generation mobile technologies. Jacobs found a breakthrough at Qualcomm with the invention of a chip used in all cell phones around the globe to allow for the ability to wirelessly communicate and share data.

Jacobs also focused on expressing the importance of his education to his career path. After graduating New Bedford High School, Jacobs went on to earn a Bachelor’s Degree in Engineering from Cornell University, where he also met his wife, and then later would earn his Ph.D. from MIT.  He left students attending the event with a bit of advice.

“I started being something of an entrepreneur very early and of course found that to be very exciting. The key is to continue your education. You’re going to get a very good foundation here, but the plan to go on obviously through middle school and high school, and then onto college is to find those areas that are very exciting to you and pursue it,” Jacobs said. “I had 13 years as an academic professor and nothing is more rewarding, and I’m sure teachers here would all agree that there’s nothing more rewarding than being a teacher. And it’s a fact that the best way to learn something is to teach it to others. “

Check out more photos from inside the school below:

Tim Dunn/Townsquare Media.
Tim Dunn/Townsquare Media.
Tim Dunn/Townsquare Media.
Tim Dunn/Townsquare Media.
Tim Dunn/Townsquare Media.
Tim Dunn/Townsquare Media.