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New Science, Engineering, Technology Building to Prepare Students for Jobs of Future

Ribbon-Cutting Ceremony Celebrates Innovative Classrooms and Modern Laboratories
the ribbon cutting for the science, engineering, and technology building

Columbia, MD – Howard Community College celebrated its new Science, Engineering, and Technology (SET) Building today with a ribbon-cutting ceremony. At approximately 145,300 gross square feet, the new building features innovative instructional spaces and modern advances in laboratory design to prepare students for the workforce or transfer to four-year universities.

The new building opens at a crucial time. Nationally, the country faces a shortage of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) professionals. With employment in the STEM fields projected to grow faster than average for other occupations, job openings continue to outnumber skilled workers and qualified graduates. Finding talented employees is of particular concern in the Baltimore-Washington region, given its high concentration of STEM industries and government agencies.

“With a central location and outstanding faculty and staff, Howard Community College has long succeeded in graduating and transferring talented science, engineering, and technology students,” said Dr. Kathleen Hetherington, president, at the ceremony. “Adding this brand-new building has transformed our teaching, as we now have an expanded, modern space to better prepare students for in-demand careers.”

For students, the SET Building offers dedicated laboratories for hands-on training in disciplines such as cybersecurity, computer forensics, genetics, geology, and plant science. It also features a two-story engineering big build room with a strong wall, ceiling-mounted crane, catwalk, and workbenches. For aspiring astronomers, there is a rooftop telescope observation area, with a telescope warming room and weather station with camera. Group study and individual study areas encourage student interaction and learning, while an undergraduate research lab spurs collaboration between faculty and students.

“The SET Building will provide my classmates and me with the opportunity to stay on the cutting edge of technology and gain a competitive advantage,” said Julian Jones, a cybersecurity student at Howard Community College. “I am so excited to be among the first group of students to experience this new building.

Howard County and the state of Maryland shared the costs of the new $76.7 million building. With more than 1,000 total classroom seats, the SET Building will help meet growing demand for well-trained cybersecurity professionals, scientists, and engineers.

“Today, Howard Community College is taking the next step forward with this new Science, Engineering, and Technology Building," said Maryland Lt. Governor Boyd Rutherford, who attended today’s ceremony. "With the addition of this new building, HCC is helping to ensure that Maryland continues to be a nationwide leader in STEM. With its world-class laboratory spaces and classrooms, this facility will empower HCC students, and transform the way they learn and how they do research.”

Howard County Council Chair Jon Weinstein and Delegate Eric Ebersole noted the positive impact the building will make on area employers.

"The new SET building is an exciting addition to Howard Community College, making this amazing institution even better,” said Weinstein. “The learning, experimentation, and discoveries that will take place here will prepare students for  21st century professions and enhance economic opportunities in Howard County."

“As a former teacher, I have always been impressed by community colleges serving as a bridge for students to further education or careers,” said Ebersole. “The new SET Building at Howard Community College is an important trestle in its support of the community.”

Among the additional features of the building are a greenhouse, digital fabrication/3-D printing room, and a new physics drop zone, where students can toss an object from 40 meters and calculate its velocity. Engineering students also have the opportunity to work on drones and aerospace projects in the outdoor yard.

Howard County Executive Allan Kittleman and Maryland Senator Guy Guzzone praised the building.

“The new SET Building is just the latest example of how Howard Community College is adapting to prepare students for the needs of tomorrow,” said Kittleman. “We are very fortunate to have this center of higher learning in our county.”

“HCC students will be at the forefront of success in the STEM industry,” said Senator Guzzone. “It is a gem of modern facilities, giving students greater opportunities to learn and sharpen their minds for the future.”

Ayers Saint Gross, in consultation with the college community, designed the SET Building to inspire students and the broader community. The twisting, turning canyon-like curves of the building’s interior lead downward to a riverbed of blue on the lobby floor. The interior also includes a three-story glass wall of STEM all-stars from history. Artistic glass installations on each floor represent various disciplines and define study areas for students. Gilbane Building Company served as the construction contractor.

View photos of the special ribbon cutting event.

For more information about the building and its academic programs, visit

Read more about the event in press coverage from The Baltimore Sun, or view the video below.

Topics: Science & Tech
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