Science education requires specialized equipment and labs. Teaching technology is constantly evolving. Volunteer State Community College faculty, staff and students celebrated the beginning of a project Friday that will update the science and math facilities on the Gallatin campus. A groundbreaking ceremony was held for a $6.2 million renovation of the J. Howard Warf Math and Science Building. The project will update all existing science labs and add two additional labs. The building was constructed in 1970 and school leaders say the upgrades are a priority.
“In the current climate where almost every career has a technology component, it is important that we give our students the best possible educational experience in science and mathematics,” said Vol State president, Jerry Faulkner. “For those that are pursuing a science, technology, engineering, or math (STEM) career it is critical that they have exposure to state of the art equipment and facilities.”
The renovation will provide 6,000 square feet of new space. Part of that area will be used for a new Mechatronics lab. That facility is currently housed in a much smaller, and older, building. The new lab will have an expanded classroom and a large open room for simulators and equipment. The extra space, and a roll-up door, will allow for new equipment to be added.
“We have had such great success with our Mechatronics program in Gallatin,” said Tom Ekman, dean of Math and Science. “This new facility will allow us to grow the program with new technology and training. The engineering skills we teach in Mechatronics are in high demand with area employers who rely on automated manufacturing and distribution.”
The project includes the creation of 33 individual faculty offices, a computer lab, and student study spaces. Vol State donors provided $475,000 in funds for the renovation with the lead gift coming from Pam Ogden with Business Credit Reports. The work is expected to be completed in the fall of 2019.
Pictured: The groundbreaking ceremony, left to right: Tom Ekman, dean of Math and Science; Jerry Faulkner, president of Vol State; Kim McCormick, vice chancellor for External Affairs, Tennessee Board of Regents; Paige Brown, mayor of Gallatin; and Andrew Finney, Vol State Foundation Board.
Below: A rendering of the finished project by Holmes Architecture.