The empty basement of the E-building will soon transform into new state-of-the-art science labs, classrooms and faculty offices, as the final installment of Measure P has allotted $1.6 million in funding towards this project.
In the March 2002 general election, Pasadena voters agreed to dedicate $150 million to PCC for building refurbishments and renovations, which has funded the construction of the Center for the Arts, an additional parking structure and various other campus enhancements.
“When the Center for the Arts was built, the photo lab moved out of the basement of the E-building and left a large, open, demolished space,” dean of natural sciences David Douglass said. “We initially wanted to do [begin the construction] two years ago, but there were some structural problems.”
The current design plan for the space includes a flex lab that will be used for environmental science and other classes that require a wet lab (a lab that uses chemicals, drugs or other biological matter), a dedicated Geographic Information Systems (GIS) lab, a smaller laboratory dedicated to student research projects, and a geology classroom with floor-to-ceiling whiteboards designed for collaborative work
“I am looking forward to filling [the new geology classroom] with materials focused on astronomy, geology, meteorology and oceanography,” geology professor Elizabeth Shadman said. “This will include computers displaying real data from earth observing satellites.”
Funding will also be going towards opening up more windows in the E-building; several classrooms don’t have any because when they were built, the front of the classroom was placed where the windows would normally be located.
“Geology definitely has been one of my favorite classes I’ve taken so far; I’m glad the labs are being built because I know I would have liked to have been able to do hands on research related to the course,” first-year student Jordyn Sigmen said.
In addition to the funding from Measure P, PCC also has a grant from the National Science Foundation for the next three years that will support undergraduate research, and will allow students opportunities for paid internships at partner institutions such as Cal Poly Pomona, Oak Crest Institute, Huntington Medical Research Institute and JPL.
“I’m excited about the research space for the students,” said Douglass. “If a science student has some research experience early on in their career, they’re more willing to stick it out through the tougher classes that science majors require. This will give us a space to teach students how to do research.”
Renovations will be taking place over the summer; physics classes will remain in their usual rooms, while other classes will be taught elsewhere.
“We’re really anxious for this to happen,” said Douglass. “We had done most of the design work about three years ago. The good news is that all the demolition has been done and all the asbestos has been removed, so now we can go in and make it a nice state-of-the-art space.”