Education - Page 2 - High-tech facilities on the horizon

- Page 2
High-tech facilities on the horizon
Renovating and building to stay ahead of the curve

By Gregory J. Alexander, Contributing Writer

Last year cities across the U.S. anxiously awaited the announcement from tech giant Amazon as to where it would decide to build Amazon HQ2, the massive expansion of the e-commerce company’s Seattle headquarters. And while Maryland was disappointed that none of its submissions were selected for HQ2,the University of Maryland was nonetheless consoled by the fact that the winning city – Crystal City, Virginia – is less than a 30-minute ride on the D.C. Metro’s Yellow Line from its College Park campus.

With this is mind, the University of Maryland (UMD) will open Discovery Center, an 8,000-square-foot space in Crystal City that will “foster innovation and collaboration among UMD students and faculty, Crystal City residents and businesses, and alumni in the area,” according to a UMD release.“We are just 11 miles from HQ2, which will generate 25,000 jobs to the area with several other businesses relocating to Crystal City. There will be tremendous internship and experiential learning opportunities for our students at the Discovery Center,” says Ken Ulman, chief strategy officer at the University of Maryland. Ulman notes that UMD’s College of Computer, Mathematical, and Natural Sciences, A. James Clark School of Engineering, College of Information Studies, and Robert H. Smith School of Business will all actively participate at the new Discovery Center. He adds that UMD has the nation’s largest number of computer science students. A fall 2020 opening is planned.

According toUMD, the“Discovery Center will provide spaces for academics, local businesses and community residents to interact and exchange ideas, as well as seminar rooms, a strategic planning and creative problem-solving center, spaces for students to work with industry partners, and career development interview rooms to facilitate internships and employment opportunities.”

Ulman notes that the Discovery Center in Crystal City is a continuation of UMD’s strategic synergy between academia and business. “Over the past few years we’ve been able to attract a number of companies to College Park via the Discovery District, including Adobe, Capital One Tech Incubator,WeWork and other tech companies,” Ulman says.“Higher education institutions like the University of Maryland are responsible for equipping students with the skills needed for 21st century jobs,” he says.

A New Look at Harford Community College Starting next spring, criminal justice and geographic information system (GIS) students at Harford Community College (HCC) will have access to the latest technology, thanks to a renovation of HCC’s Fallston Hall. “There will be a designated space for GIS, which we did not have before, as well as computers with improved processing speed, high-tech printers, a large plotter, iPads and all the latest software,” says Tony Wohlers, Ph.D., dean of behavioral and social sciences at Harford Community College.

“The forensic science lab will have state-of-the-art equipment that will allow students to analyze a crime scene like a current investigator does. These real life experiences will give them practical skills in the workplace.” Wohler says that some of the key features of the forensic lab include fingerprint, blood and semen testing kits, and high-powered microscopes.

Wohlers adds that the renovated Fallston Hall will also have a model classroom for teacher education.

“Fallston Hall will also have collaborative spaces that will allow students to work together on group study, and it will also have designated space for students who want to study by themselves,”Wohlers says. “These new collaborative spaces will also foster increased interaction between students and faculty.”

STEM Growth Mandates New Building at Towson

Towson University’s Jess & Mildred Fisher College of Science and Mathematics has experienced tremendous growth – according to the university, enrollment has surged by 130 percent between 1998 and 2018 – and now has nearly 5,000 students. The problem? The Fisher College is housed in a building constructed more than 50 years ago when the entire university as a whole had just 3,537 students. To provide students a building that can support modern teaching and research, Towson is building a new Science Complex that once complete will be the largest academic building on campus. The building is slated for a fall 2020 opening.

“Over the years, Towson University has shifted from solely a teachers’ college to a university with high-level, nationally recognized STEM programs, and there is a need for a new building that reflects this growth,” says Sean Welsh, spokesperson for Towson University. According to Towson’s website, the new science building will feature 50 teaching laboratories, 30 research laboratories, 50 classrooms, 10 collaborative student spaces, eight lecture halls and an outdoor classroom leading into the Glen Arboretum, a 10-acre wooded space on campus. “We have over 100 tree species that are native to Maryland, and the new building will allow us to further tap into the arboretum as an academic resource,” says Welsh. The complex will also include a rain garden for stormwater control, planetarium, observatory, rooftop greenhouse, museum and vivarium, according to Towson.

“This new building will be a leading edge facility that will bring out the best in our students,who will have 21st century research and technology at their fingertips,” says Welsh, who adds that the new facility will also draw additional attention to Towson and will be a great recruitment took for the university.

Welsh adds that the new science building is just one of many new projects in the work on campus. The University Union is being transformed with an 85,000-square-foot addition and a complete renovation of the existing building. Key features include 300-seat auditorium/movie theatre, a new food market with seven food venues, and a 15,000-square-foot ballroom. It is slated to open in 2021. Towson is also planning on building a new building to house the College of Health Professions.