LOCK HAVEN - Lock Haven University officials are hoping their new $40 million science center will make the university the leader of nanotechnology education among the 14 state-system universities.
The design for the new center was detailed at a Science Summit on Wednesday at the Durrwachter Alumni Conference Center.
Nanotechnology is a flagship program at the university, yet it must rely heavily on its partnerships with Penn State and Hershey.
An artist drew this projection of what the new science center at Lock Haven University will look like.
But when the senior high side of the old school on West Church Street is transformed into East Campus Science Center, the university's program will have its own "clean room," complete with airlock entry.
The nanotechnology section will be on the first floor along with the physics and geology classrooms. The second floor will house biology classrooms, plus faculty offices and a large classroom with auditorium-style seating.
Three similar large classrooms are planned on the third floor, which also will serve chemistry students.
Labs will be installed on all floors and the stations will be "fully wired" with dataports, according to architect Michael Wolfe with Highland Associates.
The 70,000-square-foot science center will fill the same footprint as the old senior high. The old Lock Haven Junior High building on West Church at Fourth Street will be untouched, having undergone renovations a few years ago.
The center's facade on West Church Street will harmonize with its historic district neighborhood, Wolf said, and include some cast stone, as well as large, tinted windows that at night will "allow the community to actually see the science programs."
Local materials will be used as much as possible, he said, to save energy and costs involved in transportation, and room lighting will be programmed for efficiency.
Ultimately, the school hopes to place solar panels on the roof to provide some of the center's energy needs, as well as educational opportunities for students. Rooftop space also will be set aside for a greenhouse, and one of the large classrooms on the third floor has been pegged as the site of a future planetarium.
Solar panels, greenhouse and planetarium are to be built when funding is available.
The school is also looking into incorporating geothermal energy, Wolf said, though the primary source for heat will be natural gas.
A big idea
The science center is a $40.5 million concept, and all but $5 million has been acquired, reported Troy Miller, director of major gifts for LHU.
The state will provide $28 million for the renovations, plus $4 million for furnishings, for a total of $32 million, he said.
LHU will designate $2.5 million from its maintenance-renovation fund for "construction overage," Miller said, and the task now is to raise the additional $5 million for the equipment teachers will use in their classrooms.
The fundraising won't stop there, Miller said. The university also has plans to create a science endowment to support student and faculty projects.
The university has received more than $2 million in science grants over the past three to five years, reported Dr. David White, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, including National Science Foundation funding for the nano program. The university has applied for an additional $1.2 million in grants, he said, including $300,000 to build the nanotechnology clean room.
The East Campus Science Center is designed to last 50 years, Wolfe said.
The fate of Ulmer Hall reportedly isn't decided yet, but its classrooms could serve other departments and it will contain the university's only planetarium, at least for a while.
James Whaley, an LHU alumnus, facilitated the summit. Whaley is vice president of communications and marketing for Siemens Corp. and president of the Siemens Foundation. He spoke about STEM - Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematical education, to which Siemens is committed, he said.
He and Dr. Keith Miller, LHU president, pointed to President Barack Obama's initiative to build up those four subjects in the United States. Eight of the top 10 occupations in job growth potential through 2014 will require scientific and vocational training, according to a university press release.
LHU intends to graduate 550 STEM students over the next 10 years, a 10-percent increase.
Provost Dr. Deborah Ericksen spoke about growth and said LHU wants to "help the Commonwealth develop strong science educators and scientists."
Its Physics Department is among the best of the state system universities, she said. Yet, today's students are using outdated labs. Once the new laboratories are available, she said, the science programs undoubtedly will take off.
"I would like to see this grow without any caps," she said.
The East Campus Science Center will be 50 percent larger than Ulmer Hall.