CASTINE — State voters approved borrowing $4.5 million for Maine Maritime Academy to help it construct a new building to house specialized laboratories and interactive teaching facilities.

The public funds will be joined with $7 million MMA has already raised.

The ABS Center for Engineering, Science and Research will be the first new building constructed on MMA’s campus in 30 years. In press release issued the day after the vote, MMA noted the building’s “modern classrooms and research spaces will enhance the college’s applied research program and strengthen [its] reputation as a world-wide marine engineering center”¦”

MMA is working to position itself as a top choice for students seeking science, technology, engineering and mathematics, or STEM education. It boasts of a 90 percent job placement rate in the graduate’s field of interest with three months of completing the course of study.

It offers 18 degree programs in engineering, management, science and transportation. Over the last 15 years, MMA’s enrollment at has grown from 650 to 950 full-time students.

MMA also wants to become a leader in “industry relevant research” that ties in with its mission.

Among the five bond questions on the Nov. 5 ballot, all of which were passed by voters, the MMA funding request had the closest margin, probably owing to its stand-alone status among the state’s public post-secondary educational institutions.