This new $13.8 million building at Roane State Community College mixes high-tech amenities with new teaching techniques, and it eases overcrowding at the Oak Ridge campus. It adds space for health science classes and programs such as surgical technology, organic chemistry, and pharmacy technician students. It also incorporates environmentally friendly design features such as a reflective white roof, lights that adjust automatically, geothermal wells that help heat and cool the building, and rain gardens that capture storm water runoff.
The high-tech amenities include “smart dummies” that can be programmed with symptoms to train nursing students, full multimedia and wireless systems in classrooms, and more than 300 computers, including in five computer labs. There is a distance education classroom with microphones hanging from the ceiling, and an engaged learning, or “flip,” classroom, where students do homework before class and come prepared to collaborate and solve problems.
A new surgical technology program, co-sponsored with Walters State Community College, will be housed here. There is a new organic chemistry lab, and Roane State’s pharmacy technician program is moving to Oak Ridge from the college’s main campus in Harriman. There is also a “flex lab” that can be easily and quickly configured to suit the training needs of area industries. It has a high ceiling and bay door, plenty of power and conduits, and gas and ventilation.
The new three-story, 64,000-square-foot building—officially named the Goff Health Sciences and Technology Building—might be described as Melinda Hillman’s “baby.” Hillman, who is Roane State’s vice president of advancement and community relations, has spent thousands of hours during the past six years working on the project, from its inception in 2008 through the planning and fundraising stages to the end of construction. She will be among those celebrating during a Friday morning ribbon-cutting ceremony that will feature special guests, including Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam.
“It’s sort of ‘birthing a baby,’” said Hillman, who clearly has a passion for the project and hasn’t taken a vacation in a year. “I’ve worked on it so long.”
Hillman and Owen Driskill, Roane State’s director of marketing and public relations, recently led reporters on a tour of the brick-and-coated-metal building, the last expansion that the 40-acre Oak Ridge campus can accommodate.
“We’re fully built out now,” Hillman said.
Ninety percent of the building’s first floor is devoted to health sciences, and there are additional health science classrooms and labs on the second floor. The third floor includes offices for adjunct and visiting faculty, and space for social science classes, including early childhood education classrooms. There are other faculty offices throughout the building, a videoconference room on each floor, small study areas for students, and two lecture halls on the first floor.
“It’s something that we’re very proud of,” Driskill said.
Hillman said the building’s nursing lab is about “as state-of-the-art as you can get.” It has cameras above the training beds that record student actions, allowing their procedures to be reviewed to help them learn.
“This is a big asset for teachers,” Hillman said.
The nursing lab includes 10 hospital beds for 20 students, compared to four in the campus’ old lab. With more beds, Driskill said, “We’re giving students many more hours of practice.”
Roane State’s old nursing lab now houses the campus bookstore.
The Oak Ridge campus on Briarcliff Avenue was originally designed for 1,800 students, but it now has 2,500. The Goff building will accommodate 500 students and give the college the space to offer its new health care and technology programs.
The building is named for Gary Goff, who served as Roane State’s president from 2005-2012. He was instrumental in raising support for the campus expansion, the college said.
Roane State’s occupational therapy assistant, or OTA, program is housed in the new building, giving those students access to larger and more sophisticated labs. Students in that program learn to help patients with practical rehabilitation needs ranging from brushing their teeth to gripping utensils to turning light switches on and off.
The Goff building also has 10 massage therapy beds for 20 students.
Hillman said the surgical technology program, which will teach 10 students in each of its first two years, was requested by the health care community. It teaches students how to assist surgeons by “pulling devices” for them, counting what goes into and comes out of patients, and sometimes closing stitches.
“We want to make sure they’re well-trained,” Hillman said.
The building has space to add an ultrasound tech program later.
Hillman said instructors helped design the building.
“They know what they need,” Hillman said.
The Goff building has received a silver LEED certification for energy efficiency. Construction began in June 2012 and was completed in March. Overall, the building includes 14 classrooms, seven labs, 37 faculty offices, an adjunct faculty area, three conference rooms, two lecture halls, 15 student study areas, and five computer labs.
Most of the money for the project came from the state through $98 million awarded to Tennessee for community college buildings through the so-called “stimulus bill” of 2009. But $2.5 million was raised through other sources, including $500,000 each from the municipal and county governments in Oak Ridge and Anderson County, as well as from businesses and individuals.
Roane State officials point out that 90 percent of the college’s graduates stay in the area.
“We are training tomorrow’s local workforce,” Hillman said.
Roane State has 17 health science programs, and about one-third of the college’s students are studying health sciences and pre-health sciences.
Hillman called the new building an investment. Education is one of the best economic development tools, she said.
The Goff Health Sciences and Technology Building was open to returning students on August 25.
Friday’s ribbon-cutting starts at 8:30 a.m. It will be streamed live online. Goff is one of the scheduled speakers. Others include state, county, and city officials.
Roane State President Chris Whaley will be the master of ceremonies, and Hillman will also speak and invite people to tour the building. Speakers will deliver their remarks inside the building’s large lecture hall and then move outside for the ribbon-cutting. After the ribbon-cutting, the building will be open for self-guided tours. Faculty, staff, and students will be on hand to answer questions and discuss features of the building.
Here is additional information on the surgical technology program, which explains the partnership with Walters State.
This release from September 2012 provides background on the Rx Tennessee grant, and includes a brief summary of the partnership between Roane State, Chattanooga State, and Cleveland State to teach occupational therapy assistant (OTA).
Read more about Friday’s ribbon-cutting here.