San Jac South celebrates new science building
San Jacinto College recently welcomed community members, elected officials, college employees and students to the new science and allied health building grand opening event at the South campus.
The new building is funded by a 2008 bond referendum that provided $295 million toward new facilities and renovations at all three San Jacinto College campuses. Along with the North campus science and allied health building which officially opened this July, and the Central campus science building that opened last year, the South campus’s 155,000 square foot three-story science and allied health facility is the largest of the three.
Incorporating state-of-the-art lecture halls, classrooms, conference rooms, and simulation labs, the building provides students a modern learning environment in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) education.
“This building is state of the art,” said Brenda Hellyer, San Jacinto College chancellor. “Over the last 10 years, growth in STEM careers in the United States has increased at a rate three times higher than non-STEM careers, and those working in STEM are earning 26 percent more. This new facility allows us to provide our community with highly trained employees that are ready to transfer on to earn a higher degree or enter the workforce with the necessary skill set to pursue a career.”
Eight science and allied health programs are housed in the building. Science programs include biology, chemistry, physics, and geology. Allied health programs include vocational nursing, associate degree nursing (ADN) mobility, pharmacy technology, and the physical therapy assistant program. The first floor includes general-purpose lecture halls and classrooms; the second floor consists of the health science program classrooms and labs; and the third floor houses the natural science classroom and lab spaces.
The facility also features a stand-alone simulation center that provides six simulation labs, including a mock emergency room/intensive care space complete with a nursing station, individual patient rooms, and an administrative support area. Four new Laerdal Sim manikins, including the SimMom and SimMan 3G, are among the latest training technologies within the center. While all of the Sim manikins provide critical physiological measurement and observation training capabilities, the SimMom enables students to go through simulated labor and delivery scenarios, and the SimMan 3G has a special feature allowing for blinking, responsive eye secretions, and pupillary responses to light. From a separate control room, faculty can create standard and emergency scenarios using the Sim manikins, monitoring diagnostic readings and the students’ procedures and technique through cameras in each patient room.
A new pharmacy medication suite, designed to model modern pharmaceutical environments, features a walk-up window, computer assisted patient entry systems, cash register, medication refrigeration and dispensing machines, and compounding equipment.
The physical therapy assistant lab is equipped with electric height adjustment plinths, hot and cold pack machines, paraffin bath, Hoyer lift, ultrasound, electrotherapy machines, massage tables, whirlpool wet area, and full physical therapy gym.
“We know the importance of technology and how it is playing a bigger role in our health care and STEM careers,” said Alexander Okwonna, dean of natural sciences and health sciences. “This building allows us to use that technology and infuse it into our curriculum to help prepare our students for the future. But more importantly, this building has inspired us to dream. This building has inspired our faculty to dream some of the most amazing activities that they have incorporated into their classroom for their students. This building has also inspired our students and raised their expectations, which you can see as they walk through the halls.”
One feature unique to this building is an astronomy observatory and observation deck, where students have the best, unobstructed views of the skies. The observatory is equipped with a new Meade 16-inch reflector telescope. Along with providing support for the meteorology and astronomy classes, the observation deck allows students to bring in their own portable telescopes to observe space as well as make weather observations and collect data from wired and wireless weather stations.
Along with all of the new training and educational technology upgrades in the $50.5 million facility, the building’s energy efficient construction also plays a large role.
“San Jacinto College is an efficiently operated institution,” said Bryan Jones, associate vice chancellor of facilities and construction. “All of the college’s new buildings are targeted for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design silver certification from the U.S. Green Building Council. It was no great hurdle for us to meet the energy requirements. In a fully collaborative planning process with the natural and health sciences faculty, the level of sophistication and design has really been taken to a new level.”
The building makes extensive use of automated systems throughout controlling lighting, irrigation, and air conditioning, furthering energy cost savings. Other energy efficient features include a new environmentally friendly airside solution with Aircuity’s ventilation sensing and control technology, which continuously measures the air for volatile organic compounds and other air contaminates; high-tech glass in all of the windows that allow more light into the building while still maintaining the building’s efficient temperature; and purified water piped throughout all the science wet labs.
Most importantly, students feel that they are getting the most current STEM and health care career training, as well as technologically advanced academic instruction. “Everything is so real,” said licensed vocational nursing student Shelby Franco. “That’s what they’re getting us prepared for, so that when we go out into the workforce, it’s going to be almost exactly what we’re experiencing now.”
For a video featuring highlights from the grand opening, visit www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z3D5TUfYmBs.
Sagemont Church will host a Christmas festival titled Hope is Born Friday, Dec. 6, through Sunday, Dec. 8.
The elaborate production will tell the story of Jesus Christ. It will be presented by 150 volunteers and also feature live animals, special effects and a musical score.
“It will be a great way to start the Christmas season by celebrating the birth of Jesus,” said Jason Ryan, Sagemont music and communications director.
There will be four separate performances of the production, including Friday, Dec. 6, at 7 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 7, at 7 p.m. and Sunday, Dec. 8, at both 2:30 and 6 p.m. Each performance is expected to run approximately 2 hours with no intermission.
All seating is general admission. Doors will open one hour prior to each performance.
All tickets are $12 each.
Children 4 and up are welcome to attend the performance with their families. Free child care will be available for children 3 and under. Attendees should register for child care when purchasing tickets.
Tickets are available by phone at 1-888-399-5523, online at www.sagemontchurch.org/christmas or at the church Thursday or Friday from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. or at church services. Cash, check, Visa, MasterCard or Discover are accepted.
For additional information, call 281-481-8770 or visit www.sagemontchurch.org.
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