The Changing Face of Campus
December 09, 2016
For the first time since the Plaza Verde residence hall was completed in the fall of 2011, new construction is happening on the Angelo State campus.
The first project to get underway this year was for the new building that will house the Hunter Strain Engineering Laboratories. The facility will measure about 8,000 square feet and will be the first new academic building on the main campus since the Science III Building was completed in 2005.
“The design looks great, so we are all really excited about that,” said Dr. William Kitch, chair of the David L. Hirschfeld Department of Engineering. “It will be a separate, free-standing building between the Vincent Building and the Super Slab. It’s going to be engineering’s signature building on campus. We really focused with the architect to come up with a design that fits the campus, but has the character to be the focal point of our engineering program.”
Until the new labs are completed, engineering students are able to use the interim engineering lab that is outfitted with more than $500,000 of new equipment and currently housed in the Vincent Building. And it’s a good thing, because the number of engineering majors grew from about 50 last fall to more than 120 for the fall 2016 semester, Dr. Alex Mejia and Dr. Daniel Castaneda have joined the faculty, and additional courses have been added to the curriculum.
“There is nothing that is going to stop us from achieving our objectives, so it’s a really exciting time.”
Though the department offices are still temporarily housed in the West Annex building, Kitch hopes to add 2–3 more faculty in 2017, and work is progressing toward accreditation by the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET). Overall, he is pleased with the first-year progress of the engineering program and optimistic about the future.
“We were on the first year of a four-year hike,” Kitch said. “We’ve got almost everything in our backpack that we need and we’re making good progress, but I’m looking up the mountain and there is a lot more climbing still to be done.”
“We’ve been able to hire high-quality faculty, and the support from the university leadership has been great,” he added. “There is nothing that is going to stop us from achieving our objectives, so it’s a really exciting time.”
Shortly after construction started on the engineering labs, ground was broken in November for the $26 million, 50,000-square-foot building that will house the Archer College of Health and Human Services. Scheduled for completion in January 2018 next to the Vincent Building and Ben Kelly Center for Human Performance (CHP), the new building will help consolidate the Archer College’s academic departments that are currently scattered in at least four buildings and from one side of campus to the other.
“That’s one of the most exciting aspects,” said Dr. Leslie Mayrand, Archer College dean. “There will be plenty of office space for the departments and faculty that are moving in. All the skills labs are also getting bigger, and there will also be debriefing rooms with plenty of space for students to meet informally or study together.”
“As we’ve worked with the architects, our main focus has been the students,” she continued. “I think that comes out loud and clear in the plans. We really want it to be the absolute best place they can be for their learning experience.”
In addition to the Archer College offices, Nursing and Physical Therapy will move completely into the new building. Other tentative plans include Kinesiology remaining in the Kelly CHP and utilizing the extra space vacated by Physical Therapy. Psychology, Sociology and Social Work is tentatively slated to move from the Academic Building into the Vincent Building space previously occupied by Nursing and Physical Therapy.
“I think it’s just going to be fabulous.”
Being either in or right next to the new building will give all the Archer College’s academic departments handy access to the lab facilities, three new 50-seat classrooms and a multi-tiered, 70-seat lecture hall.
“Those will be ideal for psychology, sociology, social work and kinesiology classes,” Mayrand said, “because their number of majors is huge. By having those larger classrooms, the whole college will really be able to utilize the new building to its full potential.”
“We’re responsible for how this is going to end up,” she added. “We’re doing everything we can think of so that this building will serve the ASU community and our students, both now and long into the future. I think it’s just going to be fabulous.”