Posted: August 05, 2012
by Union Leader
"It's been a busy summer, and will be an even busier fall semester," says Manchester Community College President Susan Huard, "We'll have two projects still under construction, and the potential for a third. But by this time next year, this campus will be transformed."
Work is under way this summer at Manchester Community College that will add new classrooms for the college's Automotive Technology program, add space for student activities and modernize and expand the Welding program. The child care center has a new playground, and a temporary cafeteria, the W.I.P. (Work In Progress) Café, is open for business.
The 8,800-square-foot addition to the automotive technology center, which adds four classrooms adjacent to existing state-of-the-art auto bays built in 2009, is just about complete, "on time and on budget," Huard said. This project allows MCC to consolidate all automotive classes – theory and lab – in the auto center and "gives us room to expand the auto technology program, both in the numbers of students we can accept, and in the addition of new certificate programs that meet the demands of the industry."
Work has also shifted into high gear on the long-awaited student center, a two-story 26,674-square-foot addition to the main building that is scheduled to open in spring of 2013. Prep work – asbestos removal, moving electrical and data systems, relocating the cafeteria – started a couple of months ago, followed by demolition of the existing cafeteria.
"It's going to be crazy on campus this fall, with the construction happening all around us, but it's only for a few months, and the end result will benefit every student,” said Huard.
When it opens in early 2013, the student center will include student meeting rooms and offices, a multipurpose space that can be used for athletic activities, performances and other public events, new dining and fitness areas, and space for students to gather outside class.
"Research shows that students who feel connected to their college will return each semester until they've achieved their goal," Huard said. When the N.H. Legislature was considering the student center project (part of the 2012-2013 capital budget), the college's student senate initiated and circulated a petition in support, which they presented to the House Public Works Committee in Concord.
It read in part: " ... We need space where student clubs and organizations can meet for extracurricular and co-curricular activities, space to hold public events that benefit us and the community, and opportunities to celebrate our successes on campus rather than off (nurse-pinning ceremonies, induction ceremonies, etc.) ... We understand (this) will be financed by an increase to student fees."
The student center is financed through a state bond, which students — not taxpayers — will repay through a student fee of $8 per credit (which will decrease over the life of the bond).
Lavallee Brensinger Architects designed the Student Center; Eckman Construction is the construction manager.
An addition/renovation to the welding lab is also under way this summer, with completion scheduled for January. The project will upgrade the current footprint and create space for additional welding stations and to house new equipment coming from grants and donations from area companies. The new lab will also allow the college to host trainings for workers who need retraining to help meet the demand for welders.
"As these projects are completed, they create a domino effect that will help us build capacity," said Huard. When the student center is complete, the current fitness center will relocate there; that will free space to expand the Graphic Design program. With new food service facilities open in the student center, the W.I.P. Café will close, and that will free space to relocate and expand the Exercise Science program.
In addition, the student center project will free space that will be used to create a veterans’ center, where MCC students who are veterans can congregate. Consolidating all auto tech classes into the auto building frees up several classrooms in the main building for other uses.
In addition, MCC's newest program, Advanced Manufacturing, will move into former auto lab space. With approximately $500,000 in new state-of-the-art equipment funded by a federal grant through the Department of Labor, MCC's new certificate in Mechatronics is the first component of MCC’s Advanced Manufacturing program. The term "advanced manufacturing technology" describes flexible manufacturing systems that use innovative technology to improve the design and manufacturing of products and process.