As for the work currently taking place, crews appear to be making steady progress on the highly anticipated building.
(Suzanne Clark photo)
Site work continues on the shared campus of The Ohio State University at Newark and Central Ohio Technical College (COTC), as crews prepare to build a $32 million STEM Center. The John and Mary Alford Center for Science and Technology has been years in the making.
"This project has been on our radar for nearly two decades, but in 2012 it was deemed a critical need for the campus," said Kim Manno, director of advancement, COTC and Ohio State Newark. "To get the ball rolling, we pursued funding through the state's biennial capital budget, but that same year, the state decided to allocate money for only renovation projects, not new builds. It wasn't until our lead donors came forward with a $2.5 million commitment that we were finally able to move forward.
"COTC and Ohio State Newark have a combined enrollment of more than 6,000 students, and many of them will benefit from this new facility. Students pursuing a major in life or physical science, such as biology, chemistry, physics, geology and astronomy, or healthcare, including nursing, surgical technology, radiologic science technology, sonography, anesthesia technology, and EMS, will especially benefit from the addition of the Alford Center."
The three-story, 60,000-sq.-ft. structure will include classroom space, instructional science labs, research labs and a 3,500-sq.-ft. health science simulation center that will house two patient simulation rooms, an operating room simulation lab, an emergency room simulation lab and an EMS simulation lab. Manno said providing ample space for science and technology is crucial.
"While the overall employment in the Central Ohio Region is projected to increase by 6.7 percent through 2024, occupational demand in many STEM fields will far outpace this projected increase. For example, demand for healthcare support occupations is expected to increase by 28.3 percent and demand for healthcare practitioners and technical occupations is projected to increase by 16.3 percent. As a campus committed to workforce development, we have to stay ahead of the curve in order to produce a steady pipeline of well-trained and qualified graduates to replace our local employers' retiring workforces and meet their expanding workforce needs."
Reaction to the new STEM Center has been extremely positive, according to Manno.
"In just the past 13 months, we've raised $13.3 million toward our $14.4 million fundraising goal. COTC and Ohio State Newark have committed a combined $17.6 million."
Manno said it's gratifying to watch the work taking place on the project.
"It's so rewarding to finally see this project coming to fruition, especially because we've needed this new facility for so long.
John and Mary Alford were unwavering supporters of COTC and Ohio State Newark for several decades. In recognition of their parents' tremendous support of the local community and specifically the Newark Campus, their children, Ronald Alford and Barbara Alford Cantlin, together with Barbara's husband, Michael, have committed a lead gift of $2.5 million.
"This project will allow both COTC and Ohio State Newark to launch new academic programming to better meet local workforce needs. COTC will soon be launching the first Anesthesia Technology associate degree program in the state, and Ohio State Newark is planning to launch a new Bachelor of Science in Manufacturing Engineering Technology after the facility opens."
A ceremonial groundbreaking ceremony took place in August. According to the official press release, numerous officials were on hand for the gathering, which included nearly 150 members of the public, community partners and donors, faculty, staff and alumni. State Representative Scott Ryan presented the campus with a commendation prepared from the Ohio House of Representatives to commemorate the event.
"The Newark campus is the crown jewel of regional campuses in the state of Ohio," said Ohio Senate Majority Whip Jay Hottinger, "and a point of pride for all of us in Licking County."
As for the work currently taking place, crews appear the be making steady progress on the highly anticipated building.
"Construction crews are actively working to remove all existing sidewalks, light poles and storm pipes, and also prepare the soil for the building foundation," said facilities superintendent Brian Boehmer, who noted that some of the biggest concerns on the project include meeting the needs of a diverse group of users and aligning the programmatic needs to the available budget.
Smoot Construction serves as the construction manager at risk. Site work commenced more than a month ago, and continues to be the primary construction activity.
The property was primarily pedestrian pathways and green space. Topsoil has been stripped, silt fencing has been installed and dandy bags have been placed on the storm inlets.
"Installation of the temporary storm bypass is under way," said Boehmer. "Benchmarks have been placed for the surveyor to establish rough grading. An existing unmarked observation well was discovered on site. It has been identified and will be abandoned. Existing concrete foundations from old demolished outdoor seating elements were discovered and removed. A section of existing roadway is currently being removed."
Regarding construction milestones, work on rammed aggregate piers began in October, as will a new geothermal loop. Rough grading should be completed in early November.
Boehmer said in dealing with a science building, complexity of various building systems is a concern for construction crews, who will be removing roughly 3,500 cu. yds. of material from the project.
Equipment used during construction will include a Komatsu PC210 LCi excavator; a Komatsu D39 Xi dozer; a Komatsu D51 Xi dozer; a Komatsu PC45 MR mini-excavator; a Hamm sheepsfoot roller; and an Ingersoll Rand smooth drum roller. Some of the main materials required on the job include masonry, curtain walls and an elevator.
With the Newark campus near capacity, officials believe the Alford Center will allow both institutions to expand academic programming, increase enrollment, enhance student success and better meet local workforce needs. The Alford Center will become the 11th building on Ohio State Newark's and COTC's shared 200-acre campus. CEG