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A New Home for Discovery

a stairwell in the new science, engineering, and technology building

This article is adapted from an article appearing in the Spring 2017 issue of Pathways Magazine.

Howard Community College (HCC) has developed a winning formula to prepare students for the region’s science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) careers. Start with a centrally located college campus, add in enthusiastic students, plus experienced, dedicated STEM faculty, and multiply by high demand for graduates. The result? Hundreds of STEM success stories.

Alumni such as Wesley Myers credit HCC for providing the education and leadership experience needed to succeed. Myers served as head of HCC’s Engineering Club, transferred to Carnegie Mellon University, and today works as an embedded systems engineer for the Department of Defense.

“Without a doubt, I would not have sought out these opportunities if HCC professors had not pushed me in the beginning,” said Myers. “HCC gave me the foundation that enabled my success in school and now my career. I wouldn’t be where I am today without Howard Community College.”

Building for the Workforce

Nationally, the country faces a shortage of STEM professionals. There is a growing demand for engineers, scientists, and a host of positions not even known a decade ago, such as vulnerability assessors and ethical hackers in the field of cybersecurity. Projections indicate that 20,000–40,000 new jobs will be created by agencies such as the U.S. Cyber Command headquarters, National Institute of Standards and Technology, and Defense Information Systems Agency.

To respond to this increased demand, HCC’s SET Building will encourage discovery by offering innovative instruction in job-ready laboratories and classrooms. It will reshape the way faculty teach and students learn.

Finding Benefits in Enhanced Learning

The opportunities for enhanced teaching and learning are endless. Engineering faculty envision hands-on design in every engineering class, instead of a few. Students will not only have enhanced 3D printing capability, they will have the equipment, like computer-controlled routers and laser cutters, to quickly manufacture the components needed to design an engineering solution.

Chemistry faculty can take advantage of a chemistry demonstration room equipped with cameras that project up-close experiments into adjoining classrooms.

Faculty also look forward to growing existing collaborations and forging new ones, such as teaching across divisions. In one example, a team from the engineering, technology, plant sciences, and culinary instructional areas started a multi-year project that will result in an automated farm machine for food production. Students will utilize the new greenhouse and computer-aided design (CAD) software to construct their “FarmBot.”

In the building, engineering students can take advantage of the build room and outdoor yard to work on drones and aerospace projects. In the new physics drop zone, students can toss an object from 40 meters and take measurements to calculate velocity at varying levels.

An expanded laboratory program configured with larger workspaces, the latest safety features, and professional-grade instruments will accommodate a greater number of students conducting even more experiments.

The life sciences program will offer students labs with new equipment that includes fluorescence microscopes and tissue culture incubators. In the new genetics lab, professors and students can use a high-speed centrifuge to isolate DNA, RNA, and proteins. Electro-pollinators can introduce DNA into cells.

An expanded oceanography curriculum, planned for 2018, will feature a new lab and wave tanks.

Students interested in cybersecurity careers, such as digital forensics examiner, disaster recovery analyst, and network defense technician, will have their own dedicated laboratories for hands-on training.

Visit howardcc.edu/future to learn more about academic programs offered in the new building, as well as transfer and career opportunities and student success stories.

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Topics: Science & Tech
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