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New CWC Health/Science Center elevates class offerings
Jul 31, 2013 - By Katie Roenigk, Staff Writer
Central Wyoming College biology professor Steve McAllister says the new Health/Science Center on campus represents "quantum improvement" over the school's previous facilities.
"I've worked in research labs that aren't as nice as what you see here," he said during a building tour with CWC trustees this month..
The geology lab has a special closet for professor Suki Smaglik's rock collection, he said, and new equipment like an ice machine and a specialized dishwasher will cut down on the time students spend cleaning up after biology experiments. McAllister said the young scientists used to have to wash their equipment by hand.
"And they had to run over to the cafeteria (to get ice)," he said, explaining that many experiments involve enzymes that must be kept frozen.
He walked the trustees through the facility's research lab, which students will use to
study West Nile virus locally.
"It's very unusual for a community college to have a dedicated research lab," McAllister said. "We can work with pathogenic organisms safely here."
The nearby combined chemistry and microbiology lab was the most expensive to build, he said, because those courses require water and gas hookups for experiments. He pointed out that professor William Finney will teach a new organic chemistry section using the shared lab space.
Later, during the trustees' board meeting, Finney talked about the benefits of offering organic chemistry to community college students.
"This is traditionally a very challenging class for any college student," he said. "To have nearly half (of my chemistry students) come to take organic chemistry here I think is a real achievement. It shows that our students really are working very hard and taking some of the hardest classes available to them."
He said 10 people signed up for the section this semester.
Finny also teaches physics at CWC. McAllister said the furniture in that classroom is light and mobile so it can be moved to make space for physics experiments.
The group took a newly certified elevator to the center's second floor to examine the nursing classrooms and simulated emergency room, where students will be videotaped and timed while they work on manikin patients. McAllister said the mini-hospital will be added to the Fremont County emergency room list for use in case of an incident that requires overflow medical space.
He especially was excited about the anatomy lab, where students will study deceased cats before moving on to human cadavers. The bodies will be transported in covered gurneys, he said, so that the deceased aren't visible to people walking the halls of the Health/Science Center.
"Only people in the course will be able to look at them and view them," McAllister said.
Most of the facility's support labs have been fitted with windows that allow the visiting public to see CWC students at work. Administrators said they plan to bring tours of younger students to the center to observe the college students in the lab.
"This building makes use of every single space," CWC president Jo Anne McFarland said. "Even the hallways are educational and contribute to the learning environment."
She also appreciated the "grand" views of the surrounding landscape from the center's many windows. McAllister said he calls the facility "the building of light."
"There's a nice, open, airy feeling here," he said.
Trustee Nicole Schoening called the Health/Science Center "incredible," while Trustee Roger Gose expressed excitement for CWC's future now that the facility is nearly completed.
"This building will really elevate (CWC) to really a four-year status," Gose said.
Workers will continue moving equipment into the building this month. Administrators said nine trucks of furniture were unloaded this week for installation, but professors already have been busy getting their own offices set up.
"It was amazing to me to watch ... over the last two weeks how coordinated the move has been," said Ron Granger, CWC's vice president of administrative services. "It's kind of interesting to see nursing staff walking along the sidewalk with hard hats on."