Rowan College debuts new STEM buildings

The following comes from Rowan College at Gloucester County.

Rowan College at Gloucester County President Frederick Keating (back row, left); New Jersey Senate President Steve Sweeney (back row, right); members of the Gloucester County Board of Chosen Freeholders and Rhonda Thompson (front row, third from right); daughter of longtime College Board of Trustee member Virginia Scott; join RCGC students during the Sept. 19 Math & Engineering Center/ Scott Hall STEM Center ribbon-cutting ceremony (Special to The Sun).

On Wednesday, Sept. 19, Rowan College at Gloucester County (RCGC) students, faculty and staff were joined by New Jersey Senate President Steve Sweeney, Gloucester County Freeholder Director Robert M. Damminger and Freeholder Deputy Director Joe Chila at a ribbon-cutting ceremony celebrating the new Math & Engineering Center and the Scott Hall STEM Center engineering addition.

“This investment in RCGC is a move in the right direction for our economy and for the students who will become the future leaders of our region,” stated Sweeney. “When I am in Trenton and advocating for funding for capital improvements to our colleges, I hold up RCGC as the example of being at the forefront of the movement to modernize its facilities to maximize the benefits our students receive.”

The $7 million Math & Engineering Center, part of the 2015 New Jersey Higher Education Go Bond and funding by the Gloucester County Board of Chosen Freeholders, opened in September. Also ready for the start of fall classes, the Scott Hall STEM Center extension includes an 8,205 square-foot addition with four cutting-edge engineering labs, a prep room, restrooms and storage with technology support spaces. Each lab and classroom houses 30 students.

“I know that my mother did not get to see this outcome, but this was a dream of hers,” Rhonda Thompson said of her mother Virginia Scott, a longtime member of the College’s Board of Trustees for whom the Scott Hall STEM Center is named. “She dedicated her life to the college to make it an affordable way for every child to have a chance to come and fulfill their dream.”

According to Dr. Christina Nase, dean of the College’s STEM Division, enrollment in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics degree programs has been steadily increasing over the past few years. The new building and addition to Scott Hall answers the need for more classroom and lab space. RCGC’s expansion also supports STEM initiatives within the community.

“We have been able to use the new lab space to help build bridges within our surrounding community,” explained Nase. “This semester, we are hosting a middle school robotics team as well as a STEM scouts lab for elementary school students. Programs like these allow our current students to inspire the next generation of scientists and engineers.”

“The U.S. Department of Labor expects the demand for engineering professionals to grow significantly over the next 10 years and we need to prepare our students for the future,” said Damminger. “This investment will help keep our best and brightest students here in Gloucester County and that is what we want. We want our students to learn here and continue on with their careers because it benefits our local economy and enhances our region’s reputation with business and industry.”

The Math & Engineering Center is the last of the construction projects on RCGC’s campus. Among capital investments already in place are a new, state-of-the-art Nursing and Allied Health Center, Adult Center for Transition and University Center, as well as an addition and renovation to the Student Services building and renovations to the Business and Corporate Center, Police Academy and expansion of Scott Hall.

“The opening of the Math & Engineering Center allows the College to continue to aggressively pursue making STEM degrees of study an integral educational choice for our students,” said RCGC President Frederick Keating. “RCGC’s STEM Division combines formal education with partnership and internship opportunities to create a well-rounded educational experience that truly prepares students to enter an increasingly competitive job market.”

For information about STEM degrees, visit RCGC.edu/STEM.