STEM

asquino-dedication-2Clouds and rain couldn’t dampen the spirits of those who joined Mount Wachusett Community College for a celebration of students, innovation, leadership, and progress. With over 150 guests including Massachusetts Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito and Division of Capital Asset Management and Maintenance Commissioner Carol Gladstone in attendance with Mount Wachusett Community College staff, faculty, students, trustees, alumni, elected officials, honored guests and community members, the official ribbon was cut on the new Dr. Daniel M. Asquino Science Center, a state-of-the-art 44,000 square-foot addition to the Gardner campus.

In recognition of President Asquino’s 30 years of leadership at Mount Wachusett Community College, the dedication included remarks from a host of lawmakers, students, and colleagues filled with gratitude and well wishes for the so on to retire leader, a science themed DNA strand ribbon cutting at the entrance and the unveiling of the name of the building to a sparkling cider toast to complete the celebration.

The day’s honored guests included the Honorable Mark Hawke, Mayor of Gardner; the Honorable Karyn Polito, Lieutenant Governor of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts; Commissioner Carol Gladstone, Commissioner of the Division of Capital Asset Management & Maintenance; the Honorable Anne Gobi, Massachusetts State Senator; the Honorable Stephen Brewer, Massachusetts State Senator; the Honorable Stephen Hay, Massachusetts State Representative; the Honorable Kimberly Ferguson, Massachusetts State Representative; the Honorable Jennifer Benson, Massachusetts State Representative; the Honorable Jonathan Zlotnik, Massachusetts State Representative; the Honorable Stephen DiNatale, Mayor of Fitchburg; the Honorable Dean Mazzarella, Mayor of Leominster; the Honorable Lew Evangelidis, Worcester County Sheriff; MWCC students Ifra Hassan, Josiah Irfan and Liam Scanlon; Tina Sbrega, Chair of the Mount Wachusett Community College Board of Trustees; past and current college and foundation board members; Fitchburg State University President Richard Lapidus; Fitchburg State University President Emeritus Robert Antonucci; Berkshire Community College President Ellen Kennedy; presidents of the area chambers of commerce; Dr. Asquino’s family; and past and present college staff, faculty, and students.

asquino-dedication-3“President Asquino has built deep and meaningful partnerships that have resulted in a college that is extremely relevant and connected to the students and community it serves. Dr. Asquino has been driven by the belief that education is society’s great equalizer and has transformed this college into what you see here today. His legacy will pay dividends for our students and our communities for years to come,” said Tina Sbrega, Chair of the MWCC Board of Trustees.

Dr. Daniel M. Asquino has served as President of Mount Wachusett Community College since August 1987 and is currently the longest-serving public higher education president in Massachusetts.

“This is about access to quality higher education and opportunities for all. It is about the economic and workforce development of this region, the Commonwealth and our nation. It is about equality and diversity,” reflected President Daniel M. Asquino, speaking about the long planning and construction process culminating in this dedication. “These new Anatomy and Physiology, Biology, Chemistry, Microbiology, Earth Science and Physics Labs will replace 45 year old labs which were showing their age. These new spaces which rival those found even in the best elite universities – all combined with our outstanding faculty – allow us to continue a tradition of service and excellence.”
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The event would not have been complete without students telling the story of the college through their own perspectives and experiences. Student speakers included Josiah Irfan, who attended Fitchburg High School, and then began at MWCC through the STEM Starter Academy summer program. He discovered his love for computer engineering and hopes to go on the UMass Amherst after completing his Computer Information Science degree at Mount Wachusett Community College.

Liam Scanlon, of Princeton, decided to attend Mount Wachusett Community College as a smart economic decision after having a positive experience with the STEM Starter Academy. He plans to pursue engineering or physics after completing his degree in Liberal Arts.
Ifra Hassan studies Biology at Mount Wachusett Community College and is also a STEM Starter Academy graduate. She recently traveled to NASA headquarters to participate in a scholarship program utilizing Mars rover replicas and hopes to attend Brown University after completing her degree at MWCC.

Mr. Irfan, Ms. Hassan, and Mr. Scanlon all have the opportunity to complete coursework in the Dr. Daniel M. Asquino Science Center and work towards their educational goals in new classrooms on cutting edge technology and lab equipment.

They were joined by several other outstanding MWCC student leaders including Student Trustee Jasson Alvarado Gomez who also serves on the Massachusetts Board of Higher Education and the Massachusetts State College Building Authority and Student Government Association President Faith Kurtz.

“Through science classes at Mount Wachusett Community College I discovered my great passion for Biology. Now, I plan on becoming a doctor and that wouldn’t have been possible without the amazing program here at MWCC,” said Ms. Hassan in her remarks to the capacity crowd.

After more than 18 months of construction and extensive renovations, the anxiously awaited opening of the new science center went off without a hitch as guests enjoyed conversations with student ambassadors, faculty, and staff while touring the new facilities. In addition to the 44,000 square-foot Science Center wing, tours had a clear view of the new 2,300-square-foot greenhouse and renovations throughout the existing Arthur F. Haley Academic Center.
Many construction milestones were celebrated along the way leading up to this momentous day in the 50 year history of the college. On August 11, 2015, the centuries-old tradition of a beam signing was observed to commemorate the completion of the structural phase of a building. During the ceremony, President Daniel Asquino, students, staff, college, community leaders and members of the construction team signed the steel beam that was placed as the uppermost beam as the new building began to take shape overlooking Green Street.

Designed by Boston-based Architerra, Inc. to meet LEED Gold certification for efficiency and sustainability, the new building contains energy-efficient features reinforcing the college’s commitment to sustainability. Over the past 15 years, MWCC has been the recipient of top state and national sustainability awards, including the American Association of College and University Presidents’ Climate Commitment, the U.S. Department of Energy, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the National Wildlife Federation. Shawmut Design & Construction, also based in Boston, acted as construction manager.

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. The project completed on-time and on-budget.

For more information about the college’s commitment to students, sustainability, and Dr. Daniel M. Asquino’s legacy, please visit mwcc.edu.

New lab classrooms in Asquino Science CenterMount Wachusett Community College students, faculty and staff; Massachusetts leaders; and the greater community will dedicate the new Dr. Daniel M. Asquino Science Center in recognition of President Asquino’s 30 years of leadership at Mount Wachusett Community College at a ceremony on Tuesday, November 15 at 2 pm.
The public opening of the new building, a state-of-the-art addition to the Gardner campus, will be commemorated with a speaking program including Massachusetts Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito and Division of Capital Asset Management and Maintenance Commissioner Carol Gladstone, as well as a ceremonial ribbon cutting, unveiling of the naming of the building, and tours of the new facilities.

Along with honored guests, college staff, faculty, students, trustees, alumni, and community members will be in attendance.

“This new Science Center offers real opportunity for our students,” said Mount Wachusett Community College Board of Trustees Chair Tina Sbrega. “Opportunity is something President Asquino has relentlessly pursued throughout his 30 years at the helm of this great college. Our students will be better prepared to be tomorrow’s leaders. We are all so proud to recognize President Asquino’s commitment to students and our college by naming this building in his honor.”

Following more than a year of construction and extensive renovations, the new science center replaces existing laboratories nearly a half-century old and will enhance the learning environment for all students, particularly those seeking careers in STEM fields.

The Dr. Daniel M. Asquino Science Center includes LEED Gold rated labs, classrooms, and student study space for the college’s continued pursuit of academic excellence.

The $41 million project includes the 44,000 square-foot science center, 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.

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. Additionally, the project was completed on-time and on-budget.

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. Construction began in spring 2015. Shawmut Design & Construction, also based in Boston, oversaw the 18-month project as construction manager.

Over the past 15 years, MWCC has been the recipient of top state and national sustainability awards, including the American Association of College and University Presidents’ Climate Commitment, the U.S. Department of Energy, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the National Wildlife Federation.

Amenities in the new building 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 commons and increased accessibility to the Raymond M. LaFontaine Fine Arts Center.

Immediately following the dedication, Mount Wachusett Community College is hosting an Open House from 3:30 to 7pm. The public, past MWCC staff and faculty, and all community partners are encouraged and invited to attend. For more information, please contact Lois Cox at 978-630-9101.

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 admissions@mwcc.mass.edu.

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.

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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.

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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.