Article via Thurston Talk
By Molly Walsh
The South Puget Sound Community College (SPSCC) Architecture, Engineering, and Construction Technology (AECT) program has a new home at the SPSCC Lacey campus. Lacey Building 3 will now house both the AECT program and the college’s advanced manufacturing program. This will be the first time both programs will be located together on the Lacey Campus, with more opportunities for expansion and collaboration while under one roof. In celebration of Lacey Building 3’s renovation, the SPSCC Foundation unveiled a new endowed scholarship that will be awarded to an AECT student each year.
The property that is now the SPSCC Lacey Campus was purchased by the college in 2014. Previously an office park, multiple buildings on the SPSCC Lacey campus property needed serious renovations in order to be used for specific programs, like AECT and advanced manufacturing.
“This building was here and so underutilized because it was just not in a good state and it wasn’t designed for classrooms,” explains Kelly Green, SPSCC’s chief community relations officer. “It used to be offices, so we really had to rethink it.”
After the state legislature approved funds for renovation out of the capital budget, the design process began in the summer of 2017. In addition to gutting the inside to create space for classrooms and a workshop, Green says the outside was also remodeled to align more closely with the campus aesthetic.
Construction started at the end of summer of 2018 and was officially completed in March of 2019. The college decided to keep the AECT program at the Olympia Campus for the remainder of the school year, with the program’s official move to Lacey beginning fall quarter 2019. AECT classes officially started at the Lacey Campus on September 23.
The AECT program was moved to the Lacey Campus to provide more opportunities for expansion and to encourage collaboration between the AECT and advanced manufacturing programs. By moving AECT to the Lacey Campus, the program will be able to expand, and other programs will be able to utilize the space on the Olympia Campus that AECT left behind. With AECT and advanced manufacturing under one roof, there will also be more opportunities for partnership between the programs.
Both the spaces and curriculum were designed collaboratively with input from industry, advisory councils, faculty, and student graduates. “By having the programs co-located, it’s easier for students to see what happens on the other side of their curriculum,” said Dean of Natural & Applied Sciences Bryan Powell. “Advanced Manufacturing students receive some design training but can now participate in courses with in-depth focus on designing something to build. And AEC students will be able to see tangible results from models created on a computer.”
Five years after purchasing the Lacey Campus, the completion of Lacey Building 3 is a huge milestone in the college’s long-term plans for the campus. With future plans for renovation of Lacey’s Building 2 on the horizon, SPSCC is one step closer to a cohesive campus.
“Building 2 houses a veteran’s hub,” explains Green. “And they actually just got some funding in last year’s legislature to let us remodel that one. So, pretty soon we’ll have three buildings that all look like a unified campus and it’s going to feel really good.”
SPSCC Alumni Involved in Lacey Building 3 Construction
Leading Lacey Building 3’s renovation was KMB Architects. With close ties to the college, KMB architects employs multiple graduates of SPSCC’s AECT program. A full circle moment, several graduates were part of Lacey Building 3’s renovation team and because they had been through the program, they understood firsthand the classroom and workshop layout that would best suit the program. Mark Beardemphl, a principal at KMB Architects was impressed by the SPSCC graduates currently employed at KMB. The Lacey Building 3 project inspired him to start a scholarship program for AECT students at SPSCC.
“Evan, the development director of the SPSCC Foundation and I got in the car and we went and visited all of our community partners who benefit from the students who graduate from here,” explains Beardemphl. “We recruited donations to create an endowment for a scholarship fund for an AECT student.”
Across the Puget Sound, dozens of companies contributed to the scholarship fund, raising $25,000 for the program. As an endowed scholarship, it will run in perpetuity. The scholarship is guaranteed each year for one student enrolled in the AECT program to receive $1,000.
Beardemphl believes that this scholarship is an example of community and industry partnerships in action, because not only are students benefitting from the scholarships, but companies are also investing in students that may eventually be employed by the businesses supporting the scholarship.
“You’re giving back to a college that invests in what your company does, trains people who are ready to go to work,” says Beardemphl. “That’s really awesome that the college is reaching out to the industry and making those connections. AECT fills a huge need. KMB, my firm, has hired six graduates out of this program to work for our firm.”
Celebrating the Opening
The ribbon cutting ceremony for the SPSCC Lacey Campus Building 3 took place on September 10 with members of the SPSCC community invited to celebrate the remodeled building. Several key stakeholders and contractors involved in the design and construction process attended to commemorate the building’s completion, including Sunset Air, Forma Construction, KMB Architects, the Washington Department of Enterprise Servicesand the SPSCC Foundation Board of Trustees. State Senator Sam Hunt, Thurston County Commissioners John Hutchings and Tye Menser, County Manager Ramiro Chavez and President of The Evergreen State College, George Bridges, were also in attendance.
To learn more about the SPSCC locations visit the South Puget Sound Community College website. To learn more about SPSCC scholarships, visit the South Puget Sound Community College Foundation website.