UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Penn State Board of Trustees’ Finance, Business and Capital Planning Committee today (Jan. 15) recommended approval of Penn State Beaver’s Michael Baker Science and Engineering Building for renovation. The committee also recommended the authorization of $9.5 million for the project. The Board of Trustees will consider both for approval at its Jan. 16 meeting.
Built in 1968, the 26,000-square-foot Baker Building houses engineering, science and computer labs; classrooms; communications labs; an art classroom and faculty offices. If approved, renovations are scheduled to begin in March, and the building is expected to re-open in June 2016.
Approximately 28 percent of Penn State Beaver’s students are science and engineering majors, and the renovations are regarded as critical for student success. Upgrades will provide new labs and equipment which, in turn, will allow students to keep pace with current and future evolutions in scientific and technical fields.
Modernized chemistry laboratories will support the University’s core science requirements and meet academic and research needs with facilities that mirror real-life work environments. The information sciences and technology (IST) lab will be upgraded to include a dedicated collaborative learning space. An Engineering Learning Factory will allow students to physically construct solutions to course-related and industry-based projects, while a new physics lab will provide the opportunity to conduct simulated experiments.
Updated laboratories supporting Penn State Beaver’s baccalaureate degree in communications will enhance course requirements in reporting, television field production and media presentation graphics, and the production of the student newspaper, The Roar.
Upgrades also are needed for the building’s heating, ventilation and air-conditioning systems, and ADA compliance requirements require installation of an elevator and restroom upgrades. New architectural entry treatments, window replacement and new window openings also are planned.
In addition, as new industries move to the greater Monaca region, it is anticipated that the enhanced laboratories and classrooms may give the campus the opportunity to provide credit and noncredit courses to promote workforce development.
“Renovations to the Baker Building will go a long way in meeting Penn State’s goals of improving academic environments, enhancing functionality and increasing energy efficiency,” said Donna J. Kuga, interim chancellor of Penn State Beaver. “These changes will enable us to provide comprehensive accommodations for all of our students who are majoring in science, engineering, IST and communications. We are grateful for the University’s support of this project.”