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October 10th, 2012

SUNY Orange breaks ground on Science and Engineering center

SUNY Orange recently held a groundbreaking ceremony for its new Center for Science and Engineering at the Middletown campus. The four-story, 100,000-square-foot building is set to be completed in the summer of 2014. Photo :STEVE HEDDERTON
MIDDLETOWN - The innovation that led to the development of the recently introduced iPhone 5 was on New York State Senator John Bonacic’s mind Tuesday morning as he joined other local officials and dignitaries at the podium to help SUNY Orange celebrate the groundbreaking for the Center for Science and Engineering to be constructed on the College’s Middletown campus.

Bonacic, who was instrumental, along with Assemblywoman Aileen Gunther, in securing nearly $20 million in state support for construction of the new science center, lauded the creative thinkers who devised the iPhone and he assured that such innovation could be generated locally.

“If young people locally are going to be innovators in the future, they need to start in the local schools,” Bonacic said as he marveled at the record-setting orders of Apple’s latest smartphone. “They don’t need to start in the Ivy League, or Stanford. They need to start in the community college where we have modern technology that inspires students to be innovators.

“The money being put into this building is not innovation. The enthusiasm of the students and the education they will receive in this building in designing the next new product. That’s innovation,” Bonacic added. “Let us begin in Middletown.”

Despite a rainy morning and threatening clouds overhead, more than 100 College employees, students, local dignitaries and members of the community were on hand for the ceremony. The new Center for Science and Engineering, slated for a Summer 2014 completion, serves as the cornerstone of the first significant capital construction initiative at the College’s Middletown campus in nearly 40 years.

The new four-story, 100,000-square-foot building will be built on the site of the former Sarah Wells Building and provide a fitting home for the College’s science, engineering and architecture programs, allowing students and faculty alike to thrive within a state-of-the-art teaching and learning environment. The building will house general classrooms, a variety of science laboratories, computer and study labs, faculty offices, larger configurable lecture/meeting spaces, and the Sarah Wells cafe. Construction is to be completed in Summer 2014.

SUNY Orange President Dr. William Richards oversaw the groundbreaking, which included remarks from Bonacic and Gunther, along with Rich Mayfield, Orange County’s director for operations and cost control who represented Orange County Executive Ed Diana; Joan Wolfe, chair of the SUNY Orange Board of Trustees; Rich Rowley, chair of the SUNY Orange Foundation Board of Trustees; John Wolbeck, chair of the College’s Science, Engineering and Architecture Department; and Jake Kalish, a second-year engineering student.

“The Department of Labor says that 15 of the 20 fastest growing professions of the future will require significant science and math training,” Gunther said. “This building and the education students will receive in it will help make the Hudson Valley more competitive in the job market and strengthen our economy.”

“This building will elevate the College’s already phenomenal engineering, architecture and science programs to new heights,” remarked Kalish, a resident of Campbell Hall who represented SUNY Orange this past summer at NASA’s National Community College Scholars program. “Some students already travel nearly an hour or more from neighboring counties to be educated at our current facility. Can you imagine the pull that this new building will have on future students?

“Even though I will have graduated by the time the building is completed, I know it will become a source of pride not just for myself, as a graduate of the engineering program, but for all SUNY Orange alumni. This building, along with Kaplan Hall on the Newburgh campus, is an example of how the College is growing,” he added.
Two other projects - the Morrison Family Lab School and a parking garage at the intersection of Wawayanda and East Conkling avenues - are included in the current Middletown campus capital improvements project. The Lab School, a state-of-the-art childcare facility that also serves to enhance the curriculum of SUNY Orange’s Education Department, opened in August. The parking garage is expected to open in January 2013 and provide an additional 300 parking spaces for students.

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