ST. GEORGE — Students joined faculty and university administrators outside the doors of the Science, Engineering and Technology building at Dixie State University to dedicate the new facility Friday.
The five-story, 120,000-square-foot building will serve thousands of students enrolled in STEM courses at Dixie State. Construction began in October 2019 and finished in time for classes to move into the building and begin instruction at the start of the 2021 fall semester in August.
Eric Pedersen, dean of the College of Science, Engineering and Technology, told St. George News that the new building contains 28 lab spaces and eight additional classrooms specifically designed for biotech, chemistry, physics, environmental sciences and many other disciplines.
“I think my favorite part is that each of the lab spaces has really been designed for hands-on activities,” Pedersen said. “I think it’s the aspiration of most of the STEM programs to be the most hands-on, authentic learning that you can find. We really wanted to focus on the student experience as we planned out the space.”
The last building constructed on campus to serve science and engineering students was the Snow Science Center, with a ribbon-cutting ceremony held for that facility in March 2013. While some STEM courses will still be held in that building and the Smith Computer Center, the new science building represents a massive increase in classroom space and lab technology, Pedersen said.
Many students and their instructors have already been able to take advantage of new learning spaces. David Bean, a senior biology major at Dixie State, said he noticed a big improvement in the tools and technology made available to each student.
“The organic chemistry lab is significantly larger than the last one, so each team gets its own (fume) hood in the lab, and it’s a lot easier to work with,” Bean said. “All my classes are in this building, and I feel like it really ups the game of Dixie State.”
LaRae McGregor, an adjunct biology instructor, has been teaching an evening class in the new building. McGregor said she has been able to see the university grow throughout her lifetime thanks to her father, Dr. Andrew Barnum – a Dixie State Professor of 36 years.
“I was basically born and raised on this campus,” she said. “It makes me really excited to see where we’ve come from where we were in the very beginning. I’ve been able to see that transformation over the years, and I think students are really lucky to be on campus at this time.”
McGregor also noted the improvement in terms of technology and upgraded lab space, and said she enjoyed little things like the views and lighting made possible by the windows surrounding the building.
One feature of the new structure that has already begun attracting students and faculty alike is the abundance of outdoor spaces. The building boasts three levels of outdoor patios and an astronomy deck, all of which are ringed in the copper panels that cover the building’s exterior.
For Pedersen, the amenities of his college’s newest building are just part of the tremendous growth of STEM programs at Dixie State. In addition to adding physical space, the College of Science and Technology has recently created new educational programs in electrical and computer engineering and in biotech.
With plans to increase active-learning and industry collaboration, Pedersen said the outlook for Dixie State’s STEM graduates is getting better and better with each year.
“There are lots of tech, biotech and engineering companies in our region that we’re helping to provide the workforce and talent needs for,” Pedersen said. “As for the future, I see an ecosystem that continues to build and grow on more innovation and talent, and I want opportunities for science, engineering and technology students to provide well for themselves in high-pay, high-demand careers.”
For more information about the DSU College of Science, Engineering and Technology, visit the website.
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