Mount Wachusett Community College’s third annual STEM Starter Academy came to a close on Thursday, Aug. 18, following a seven-week schedule that provided two free academic courses with textbooks, academic support, and a stipend for participants.

More than 30 students from throughout the region enrolled in one or two courses such as a four-

PHOTO: Stem Starter Academy students enrolled in Mount Wachusett Community College’s summer biology course Life Science for Allied Health, with Dean Janice Barney and Assistant Dean Veronica Guay, checked out the new science classrooms nearing completion at the Gardner campus.

Stem Starter Academy students enrolled in Mount Wachusett Community College’s summer biology course Life Science for Allied Health, with Dean Janice Barney and Assistant Dean Veronica Guay, checked out the new science classrooms nearing completion at the Gardner campus.

credit lab science and one general elective. In addition to earning up to seven free credits toward their STEM Pathway, the students toured the college’s new science, technology, engineering and mathematics building, received presentations on STEM careers, and explored MWCC’s transfer opportunities for its graduates.

“We are excited to complete our third annual summer program for local learners pursuing a degree in STEM fields,” said Veronica Guay, Assistant Dean of the School of Business, Science, Technology and Mathematics. “This summer’s Academy was outstanding. We nearly doubled the number of participants who attended in 2015 as the word is spreading about this amazing opportunity. Students have increased confidence in the areas of time management, study skills and ability to access to the college’s numerous student services. Some of the greatest areas of growth for the students include their interactions with college faculty, the willingness to access academic tutoring, and to assist one another and establish study groups. We are already looking forward to welcoming the summer 2017 STEM Starter Academy students!”

Funded through a grant from the Massachusetts Department of Higher Education, the STEM Starter Academy is open to high school graduates or qualifying MWCC students who place into college-level English and math courses and are enrolling in one of MWCC’s STEM majors in the fall.

Qualifying MWCC STEM majors include analytical lab and quality systems, biology, biotechnology, chemistry, computer information systems, exercise and sports science, fire science technology, graphic and interactive design, interdisciplinary studies-allied health, medical laboratory technology, natural resources, physics, pre-engineering, and pre-pharmacy.

Courses offered during the summer academy included intermediate algebra, introduction to functions and modeling, life sciences for allied health, chemistry, statistics and introduction to psychology. In addition to the coursework, the students will also participate in MWCC’s Summer Leadership Academy on Aug. 23 and 24.

“Our students have had an outstanding summer and are ready to continue their studies this fall with two courses already under their belt,” said Christine Davis, MWCC’s STEM Starter Academy recruiter. Students from approximately a dozen area towns enrolled in the rigorous program, and tackled classes in an accelerated format that will prepare them for their careers, she said.

Many of the academy students are also recipients of STEM SET scholarships at MWCC. These awards of up to $3,500 per year are available to qualifying STEM majors through a grant the college received from the National Science Foundation.

In another MWCC STEM program supported by the DHE this summer, nearly 40 high school seniors participated in a four-credit introduction to physical science course and toured the college’s new science and technology building that is nearing completion.

For more information, contact MWCC’s admission’s office at 978-630-9110 or

Third floor of the new STEM wing looking east back towards the future connection to the existing Haley Building

Third floor of the new STEM wing looking east back towards the future connection to the existing Haley Building

Late last week, staff and faculty were given a preview of what’s to come with walk-through tours of the ongoing renovations and new wing construction.

While the STEM wing remains an active construction job site, one can begin to imagine what the final finished building will look and feel like, with towering glass walls, large open hallways, new labs and faculty offices, and student study spaces on all floors. Construction includes two new bathrooms on the main floor, a hot topic around campus for both students and faculty.

In the existing Haley building, renovation is also well underway. The front entrance is getting a complete face lift including de-icing walkways and glass entrance ways. Existing bathrooms are gutted and in the process of expansion. The new multi-purpose room is bigger than we imagined and will likely be the new locale for interactive demonstration, campus events, and student life activities. A glass front for a brand new Advising Center is yet to be installed, but the access from exterior entrances will make this a new central hub of the Haley building.

Not to be missed, the theatre wing renovations are also moving along swiftly. With two new entrances, expanded bathrooms, new theatre preparation spaces, and easier access for the visiting public, this theatre renovation is a game changer.

Work both inside the Haley building and in the new STEM wing continues into the winter with access to Haley areas slated for January and completion of the STEM wing for late summer 2016.


Shelby, 7, examines cell structures as scientist Rosalind Franklin did in 1951, during the All American Girl Doll Time Machine class.

After over 20 years, the American Girl doll phenomenon is still going strong with young girls excited to learn about the background of different dolls and what it was like to live in a different era.

The All American Girl Doll Time Machine was one of many classes offered this summer to children of all ages through Mount Wachusett Community College’s Adventure Academy program. In this class, students received an 18-inch doll on the first day of class that is theirs to keep. Each day, they made different crafts for their doll, and explored a new historical era through the stories published by “American Girl.” Additionally, each class paired STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and math) education with the daily history lesson.


Academic Adventure Academy students David, 11, and Peter, 10, test the composition of minerals by using different chemical elements in a forensic science class, CSI Duties of a Detective.

A visit from Mad Science of Western New England provided the group of young girls with interesting experiments correlating with lessons on female scientists, including Nobel-prize winning physicist and chemist Marie Currie, anthropologist and primatologist Jane Goodall, marine biologist Sylvia Earle and chemist and molecular biologist Rosalind Franklin.

Shelby Forhan, a first-time student at the All American Girl Doll Time Machine class, said she enjoyed the program, which she attended with her sister. “The most exciting part of the program was making a TV, clicker, dog, dog bed, and passport for my doll, who I named Riley after my sister,” she said.

“This is something great for the girls to enjoy,” said Academic Adventure teacher Ashley Chicoine. “I had an American Girl doll when I was younger, so I thought this would be perfect. The girls get to make different crafts for the dolls each day. At the end of each class they do approximately 15 minutes of independent reading on a book about one of the American Girl dolls so they can learn more about the American Girl and their background.”

Nearly 800 teenagers and children throughout the region have participated in MWCC’s annual  Adventure Academy, which offered more than 30 classes and sports programs including Mine Craft, Legos, Hogwarts School of Wizardry, Beginning Veterinary Medicine, drama classes, pottery, basketball, soccer, martial arts and tennis. A majority of the classes are taught by area elementary school teachers on summer break and incorporate lessons in STEM and STEAM education. The program also includes a full lunch and all supplies and materials.

This year, 10 scholarships were given to students through Day Camp Dreamin’ which serves nine North Quabbin towns.

“Through Academic Adventure, we really strive to get both genders into the STEM fields,” said Dawn Gilliatt of MWCC’s Division of Lifelong Learning and Workforce Development.  “Not many summer programs offer history incorporated with STEM activities.”

-Katherine Best

MWCC STEM Building Ceremony

Participants in Mount Wachusett Community College’s Building Beyond Tomorrow ceremony marking the start of construction on its $41 million science building include, from left: State Rep. Jonathan Zlotnik; Gardner Mayor and MWCC Trustee Mark Hawke; former MWCC Board of Trustees Chair Jim Garrison; Senator Stephen M. Brewer; MWCC President Daniel M. Asquino; State Rep. Stephen DiNatale; Division of Capital Asset Management and Maintenance Commissioner Carol Gladstone; Representatives from Architerra and Shawmut Construction; and MWCC student leaders.

With a nod to its future and that of its students, Mount Wachusett Community College celebrated the start of construction of its eco-friendly science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) addition during a “Building Beyond Tomorrow” ceremony on Earth Day, April 22.

“Today we celebrate not just the assembly of bricks and mortar, but we truly lay a foundation literally and figuratively for the future of our school, our students, alumni, and indeed the future of our greater community,” MWCC President Daniel M. Asquino said to the gathering of students, faculty, legislators, community leaders and college supporters.

The new building will replace existing laboratories nearly a half-century old and will enhance the learning environment for all students, particularly those seeking careers in the STEM fields, he said.

“Our STEM students include first-generation college students aspiring to be the first in their families to attain higher education.

Many of the students are participating in the college’s STEM Starter Academy, a program funded by the Massachusetts Department of Education, as well as the STEM SET Scholars program, funded through a grant by the National Science Foundation which awards up to $3,300 per year to participants.

“This building represents a tremendous investment by the Commonwealth in the future of our region’s students and graduates,” he said. “Today’s families and students are seeking ways to fund a college education in an era where student loan debt has ballooned and placed a tremendous financial burden on so many graduates.

“Increasingly, more students are recognizing the value of beginning their academic studies at MWCC before transferring for a bachelor’s degree and other advanced degrees in the profession of their choice.  By helping them during these foundation years, Mount Wachusett Community College plays a key role in meeting state and national goals of filling a shortage of graduates both at the state and national level to remain competitive globally.”

Carol Gladstone, Commissioner of the Division of Capital Asset Management and Maintenance, noted that the project is one of many DCAMMM projects at MWCC in recent years, including the construction of two wind turbines in 2010, the Garrison Center for Early Childhood Education in 2006, the Senator Robert D. Wetmore Center for Innovation in 2004, and the biomass heating system in 2002.

During her first groundbreaking ceremony since being appointed earlier this year, Commissioner Gladstone said the project blends new, state-of-the-art construction with much-needed renovations that tie in with the college’s nationally recognized sustainability initiatives. “But what’s really most important is the purpose – the students – who are preparing to become nurses, dental hygienists, physical therapist assistants, scientists and other technology specialists to serve the Commonwealth.”

Long-serving State Senator Stephen M. Brewer, State Rep. Jonathan Zlotnik and Gardner Mayor Mark Hawke, a member of MWCC’s Board of Trustees and an MWCC alumnus, were among the other featured speakers.

The new building is one of “so many wonderful things that have happened at Mount Wachusett Community College,” to benefit students, veterans and the region, said Senator Brewer, a key supporter of the new building during his tenure in office.

The $41 million project includes a 44,000 square-foot addition, a new 2,300-square-foot greenhouse and renovations throughout the existing Arthur F. Haley Academic Center. MWCC received $37.9 million in state capital funds for the project, as well as a $500,000 grant from Massachusetts Life Sciences for laboratory equipment.

Designed by Boston-based Architerra, Inc. to meet LEED Gold certification for efficiency and sustainability, the new building will contain energy-efficient features to tie in with the college’s commitment to sustainability. Shawmut Design & Construction, also based in Boston, is overseeing the 18-month project as construction manager. Completion is anticipated in fall 2016.

Amenities in the new building will include eight new classrooms and laboratories, four lab prep rooms, 24 new faculty offices, student study space and interior glass walls to highlight STEM student innovation. Renovations to the Haley Academic Center include a new visitor entrance, a multi-purpose room, an academic advising suite, a refurbished student-centered campus hub and increased accessibility to the Raymond M. LaFontaine Fine Arts Center.

From an economic standpoint, this is the largest construction project in North Central Massachusetts, which in itself helps boost the region’s economy by providing work for Massachusetts businesses and bringing more traffic to local businesses and service providers.


Academics-New-Building-ExteriorState officials, legislators and business and community leaders with join the MWCC community on Earth Day, April 22, to celebrate the start of construction of the college’s new $41 million science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) building. The Building Beyond Tomorrow ceremony will begin at 2:30 p.m. in the Commons Area of the Gardner campus.

Carol Gladstone, Commissioner of the Division of Capital Asset Management and Maintenance, and President Daniel M. Asquino will be among the featured speakers.

“This is another exciting milestone in the history of Mount Wachusett Community College,” said President Asquino. “This project supports trends in teaching and learning and reflects the national and statewide STEM initiatives while providing the best possible education for our students.”

Site preparation work began in March on the 44,000-square-foot addition and renovations to the Arthur F. Haley Academic Center. The Commonwealth is investing $38 million in the project to support the academic needs in North Central Massachusetts. The project will be one of the largest in North Worcester County.

Amenities will include eight new classrooms and laboratories, four lab prep rooms, 24 new faculty offices, student study space and interior glass walls to highlight STEM student innovation. New laboratory equipment, including projection microscopes with 60-inch flat screen monitors, will be acquired through a $500,000 grant the college received from the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center.

Designed by Boston-based Architerra, Inc. to meet gold LEED certification for efficiency and sustainability, the new building will contain energy-efficient features related to heating, exhaust, lighting and plumbing to tie in with the college’s sustainability initiatives.

Upgrades to audio/visual equipment and enhanced wireless capabilities in labs and open areas, are also among the features, as well as a new 2,300-square-foot greenhouse for science programs. Improvements to the Haley Academic Center will include a new visitor entrance, a multi-purpose room, an academic advising suite, a refurbished student-centered campus hub and increased accessibility to the Raymond M. LaFontaine Fine Arts Center.

MWCC construction ramp demoSite preparation for MWCC’s new science and technology building on the Gardner campus continues on schedule with much activity taking place inside and outside the Haley Academic Center.

During the week of March 23, construction crews were busy breaking up concrete structures on the front lawn and moving soil to make way for the addition. Offices on the second and third floors that are located where the addition will connect to the main building were vacated and employees were relocated. Partitions are being built on the first, second and third floors and the Fine Arts stairwell to cordon off the construction zone.

During the week of March 30, demolition activities will continue on the front of the building as well as the Fine Arts Wing stairwell. Within the building, some mechanical and electrical demolition in the division office areas will begin.

The 44,000-square-foot addition and renovation of the 41-year-old Arthur F. Haley Academic Center will bring MWCC to the forefront of STEM education. A Building for the Future ceremony marking the start of the project is being scheduled for mid-spring.


Archiect's Rendering: Visitor EntryAs we ring in 2015, we are also ushering the start of our Gardner campus transformation.

In preparation for construction of our new science building and improvements to the Haley Academic Center, contractors will remove ceiling tiles in designated locations in the basement and on the first, second and third floors during the holiday break. This will allow access to HVAC controls, plumbing, and mechanical and electrical systems, which will be replaced or upgraded as part of the overall project.

Regular college operations will continue throughout the project, though minor and temporary interruptions are necessary as we prepare to transform our campus.

The ceiling tiles being removed contain minimal amounts of asbestos and will be removed using strict containment and air monitoring procedures. For this reason, access to some offices will be unavailable.

Mount Wachusett Community College is taking every step to ensure a safe and healthy work and learning environment on campus. For the abatement work, the college has hired Environmental Compliance Services, Inc., a Massachusetts licensed asbestos abatement contractor that is also certified by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Abatement contractors follow strict rules (regulatory and contractual) and a third-party consultant is on site to document contractor compliance, including review of licensing and permitting prior to removal, pre-removal review of the regulated areas to document compliance, air sampling of critical barriers around regulated areas, safe work practice verification, final visual inspections and air testing upon project completion.

Once the tiles are removed, abatement work is completed. Most of the ceilings will remain open through summer 2015 to allow for continued access to the systems.

Check the NewsCenter regularly for updates as we begin this exciting time at MWCC.

MWCC student Louis Ayisi, seen here with Governor Deval Patrick, represented his school at the Department of Higher Education's "Go Public!" event in Worcester

Gov. Deval Patrick and MWCC pre-engineering student Louis Ayisi at the Department of Higher Education’s Go Public! event in Worcester.

Mount Wachusett Community College pre-engineering and Honors Program student Louis Ayisi delivered one of six student speeches to a large assembly at the Massachusetts Department of Higher Education “Go Public!” event held Oct 15 at Worcester’s North High School. With Governor Deval Patrick and Secretary of Education Matthew Malone on hand, Ayisi helped showcase MWCC to 350 high school seniors from Worcester’s North, South and Burncoat high schools.“Go Public!” brings together impending graduates at high schools throughout the state, promoting science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) programs and the merits of an education at one of the Commonwealth’s 29 public campuses.

Ayisi, who emigrated from Ghana to the United States seven months ago, has found his niche at MWCC and in North Central Massachusetts. Two semesters into his college education, he has maintained a 4.0 GPA while also volunteering as a math tutor at the Boys & Girls Club of Fitchburg and Leominster.

“Your past is an experience, and today is an experiment. So use your past in your experiment to achieve your expectation,” he said, while detailing his personal, academic and community-engagement experiences over the last seven months.

Following his speech, Ayisi joined MWCC admissions representatives at the subsequent college fair, which also featured demonstrations of STEM-related subjects. Additional student speakers represented UMass Medical School, UMass Lowell, Quinsigamond Community College, Fitchburg State University and Worcester State University.

The event was co-sponsored by the Massachusetts Department of Higher Education and GEAR UP, a federally funded program providing early-college awareness activities to more than 7,000 students in seven high-poverty districts.

– Cameron Woodcock

bionostics equipmentMassachusetts’ 15 community colleges have been awarded a $20 million Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training Grant from the U.S. Department of Labor to further state-wide initiatives addressing training and educational needs in the STEM fields of science, technology, engineering and math, as well as advanced manufacturing and healthcare.

Led by Massasoit Community College, the Guided Pathways to Success in STEM (GPSTEM) project will use the national Complete College America Guided Pathways to Success model to assist eligible students in obtaining degrees and certificates in STEM fields. The model focuses on reducing the time to complete certificates and degree programs, thus increasing the number of students entering the state’s workforce and transferring to four-year schools.

During the three-year grant period, the consortium will create or enhance a total of 24 STEM degree options and 58 certificate programs, through partnerships with business and industry, the Commonwealth’s workforce system, state universities and UMass. These collaborative pipelines will help students seamlessly transfer into baccalaureate programs and meet industry demand in specific STEM fields.

Mount Wachusett will receive $525,000 to create and enhance certificate programs in career readiness, hospitality, cyber security, information technology and other areas. MWCC is also currently overseeing a $15.9 million TAACCCT grant awarded last fall to the college and partnering institutions in Tennessee, Ohio and Louisiana to further training opportunities in advanced manufacturing.

The project will also build on the Career & College Navigator model, designed and implemented by the Massachusetts community colleges for the first round of TAACCCT funding in 2011.

“Creating key pipeline collaborations in the STEM fields in conjunction with the state universities and UMass will serve as a new model for creating comprehensive higher education and industry partnerships in the Commonwealth,” said Bill Hart, Executive Officer of the Massachusetts Community Colleges Executive Office.

The TAACCCT awards totaled $450 million to nearly 270 community colleges partnering with more than 400 employers nationally. The announcement made Oct. 3 by Vice President Joe Biden, Labor Secretary Thomas E. Perez and Education Secretary Arne Duncan.