New science modules are being built behind the campus mall to provide room for the growing science majors and a potential STEM program, according to Vice President of Student Affairs Tim Young. The projected end date for construction has been reassessed as March 15, with the buildings being move-in ready by March 31.
The modules will potentially be replaced by permanent buildings in the realization of the 30-year Campus Master Plan, according to Young. Though technically portables, the buildings will be functional for up to 15 years and will provide 4,300 square feet of wet lab space.
Young explained they will be built on concrete foundations which will help with longevity and will not reflect the traditional portable look.
The decision to build behind the VUSC letters was made because the school is required to have appropriate facilities in order to receive accreditation for the growing Bachelors of the Science programs. Young explained the temporary science modules are set to meet enrollment needs and build capacity for the future STEM potential.
“Once we saw the students that were applying for the program–we had a significant number of applications–it became clear there weren’t going to be enough lab spaces for the sections of that they were going to need,” Young said.
The choice then became assessing where these facilities would go and how they would relate to the progress of the Campus Master Plan. The consideration of these buildings began in September 2018, with more concrete planning beginning in October. It was not until Jan. 2 that the plan was approved by the city, which did lead to a delay in the process.
“The science labs came in as another reality we had to deal with,” Young said. “In the planning process…it’s a constant snowball of where are we going to move what program.”
The Master in Sciences in Clinical Psychology program has moved to a facility at Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa to accommodate the growth of the sciences. With the popularity of the new nursing program, the temporary addition of science labs is meant to meet enrollment needs and build capacity for future STEM potential.
“We’re not just creating need. There is need to create a future STEM building and we are not saying for sure we are doing the STEM building, but that is what would be next in our master plan; that’s what we are thinking of as of today,” Young said.
Originally, lab space was proposed in the South Annex, but wet labs, which include facilities for gas and chemicals, would not be allowed under city code. Two regular lab spaces have been added to the South Annex, but administration plans for more, according to Young. Once the foundation for the new science majors is laid, then there will be the opportunity to expand the educational space.
The modules’ original date for completion was March 1. Both the module construction and Student Center progress were delayed by the heavy rains throughout January, causing construction to halt and some groundwork to be undone.
In addition to the lab modules, the science programs will be enhanced by facilities such as aquaponics and a butterfly garden added to the courtyard of the science building. The development of these facilities are funded by a separate grant, according to Young, and are currently being overseen by Dr. Tara Sirvent, Professor of Biochemistry and Interim Associate Dean of STEM.