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Light in the Valley
FVSU to open SMART classroom facility
July 28, 2010 - Fort Valley State University professors are bidding final farewells to the beloved Isaac Miller Science Building. Right now, staff are boxing books and carting away 60-year-old precious memories. Contract movers dismantle and carefully pack research equipment: gas chromatographer-mass spectrometers, nuclear magnetic resonance and Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy machines. The gear will make the big move to a new home, FVSU’s modern scientific research facility: Academic Classroom and Laboratory Building. Ten years in planning, the three-story, 63,356 sq. ft. structure – officially opens during a ribbon-cutting ceremony at 9 a.m. Friday, Aug. 6.
“FVSU needed a new research facility because the old science building could not be retrofitted with the necessary equipment to modernize it,” said Dr. James Mack, an associate professor and former chemistry department chair. Mack serves on the planning committee for the new research facility. “Miller did not have any piped in gases, the flat roof leaked all the time, and the air conditioner worked when it wanted too.”
Construction of the new $16.3 million building began in 2008 and was scheduled for completion the following year. But unforeseen delays caused a change in the initial project, according to Cheryl Canty-Aaron, FVSU’s interim director of facilities planning.
“Originally, the building was slated to be a graduate-level academic and laboratory building,” said Canty-Aaron. “Ultimately, the plan was changed to accommodate undergraduate-level coursework. This change caused delays in architectural design and program management services. When the project was finally designed, it was $2.5 million dollars over the budget, which resulted in several months of value engineering to get the project within the $15 million mark. Once construction commenced, discrepancies in the building’s design resulted in changes that led to further delays.”
The ACL Building – which includes an administrative and a laboratory wing – can accommodate 750 students. The facility has 20 classrooms, 10 preparatory labs, 13 project labs and 28 offices. The classrooms contain the latest, state-of-the-art, SMART technology with interactive whiteboards, podiums, projectors with screens and are internet-ready and equipped with wireless ports. Every lab has the latest research equipment, casework and an emergency water-safety apparatus. The structure’s central atrium area has ornate, ceramic tiling and a monumental staircase flanked with an aluminum and glass railing. A spacious, 80-seat auditorium/lecture hall will accommodate larger classes.
“The new building provides more laboratory spaces for students to carry out their experiments,” according to Dr. George Mbata, FVSU’s interim biology chair. “It brings FVSU to a comparable level to some research institutions, if not higher. It will also give faculty a chance to do research and involve students in ongoing, on campus research.”
Mack and Mbata say the new building will attract more students to FVSU’s science departments. Currently, 60 students are enrolled in chemistry and 500 in biology. Mbata expects more than 900 biology students to enroll by fall 2010.
The Miller Science Building will have new tenants: it will house the Department of English and Foreign Languages, the Learning Support and Quality Enhancement Plan programs. Currently, the project is in the design development phase, which is 95 percent complete. An interior demolition is planned for the building’s inner walls to create large, internet-ready SMART classrooms to accommodate more students.
View pictures capturing faculty moving to the new ACL Building at http://www.fvsu.edu/about/photos.
Christina D. Milton, editorial assistant
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