The newest building on the campus of Nassau Community College features a rooftop observatory with telescopes, solar panels and a mini-wind turbine for students who want to study environmental and climate science. There's a planetarium on the third floor.
The redesigned space with its comfortable furniture, modern classrooms and galaxy mural cost $31 million, funded equally by the state and Nassau County.
The building represents the latest in a string of multimillion dollar capital projects at Long Island’s universities and colleges, ranging from a more than $21 million facility at Suffolk County Community College with a focus on renewable energy to the $700 million Climate Exchange Center in New York City operated by Stony Brook University.
Nearly all of these projects have been built to prepare students for careers in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) or the health care industry, and have been made possible through a mix of state funding, local money, economic development grants and private funds.
WHAT TO KNOW
- A newly renovated building that just opened at Nassau Community College represents the latest in a string of multimillion dollar capital projects at Long Island’s universities and colleges.
- Nearly all of these projects have been built to prepare students for future careers in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) or the health care industry.
- Experts say the focus in higher education on the health care and STEM fields represents a "significant economic impact for Long Island."
"This building boom that is happening on Long Island in the immediate sense is pumping money into the economy and creating construction jobs," said Matt Cohen, president & CEO of the Long Island Association, the Island's largest business group. The focus on health care and STEM in the long term represents a "significant economic impact for Long Island," he said.
Officials at NCC held a ribbon-cutting in mid-November to unveil the renovated building called “Cluster C," constructed in the 1970s. Remodeling began in 2018, but was interrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Cluster C can accommodate programs in computer science, computer information systems, information technology, mathematics, cybersecurity, civil engineering technology, computer repair technology, construction management, electrical engineering technology, engineering science and physics, among others.
"This is providing state-of-the-art technology that we haven't had for so long," said Genette Alvarez-Ortiz, NCC's acting vice president of academic affairs. There still will be classroom lectures involved, but the space provides a more "hands-on experience" that can lead to greater engagement in learning, she said.
NCC student Isaiah Jerry, 25, of Elmont, is studying electrical engineering technology. The new building offers more opportunities for him to interact with students outside of his discipline. Jerry now sees more students studying subjects such as math and physics, and that creates a better campus vibe, he said.
Also, the new space shows that the school has invested in its students, he said. "It means they care about the program," Jerry said.
The three-story, 61,000-square-foot building is a model for the renovation of other buildings, all of which were constructed in the 1970s. The college is planning to renovate Cluster D, the neighboring building to Cluster C, to accommodate new programs in trades education, including workforce development credentials in welding, electrical systems and heating, ventilation and air-conditioning.
Other schools across Long Island also have announced major initiatives.
Here is a sampling of those plans.
Officials in October announced the opening of a new 75,000-square-foot center focused on training the next generation of nurses and engineers, two fields in high demand across Long Island and New York State.
The $76.8 million Science and Innovation Center is shared by the Hofstra Northwell School of Nursing and Physician Assistant Studies and the Fred DeMatteis School of Engineering and Applied Science. It includes a fully equipped operating room, intensive care suites, nursing simulation rooms, ambulatory patient rooms and science and bioengineering laboratories.
Empire State Development, a state economic development agency, provided a $25 million capital grant to Hofstra in 2016, while an additional $2 million came from the Long Island Regional Economic Development Council through a grant for nursing equipment.
Another $1 million from the National Science Foundation went to the DeMatteis School of Engineering and Applied Science to strengthen its computer infrastructure, while the remaining balance was funded by Hofstra through a combination of tax-exempt and taxable bonds, the university said.
Suffolk County Community College
Students are attending classes in the $21.3 million, 26,000-square-foot, two-story hub of science and innovation on the college's Brentwood campus known as the Renewable Energy STEM Center. The facility opened in June.
The building, funded by New York State and Suffolk County, provides students with a facility to learn chemistry, physics, engineering, math and other workforce initiatives.
The National Grid Center for Workforce and Energy Education, an open symposium center with seating for 300 and computer and network accessibility, also is located in the building. A combination of state and county dollars as well as an $850,000 federal grant funded the facility.
"The building of these new facilities and the programs that are going to make the … colleges and universities even more appealing to potential students or students from out of state," to attend college in New York, Cohen said. The projects also may make it more appealing for local students to attend higher education institutions on Long Island as opposed to going away to school, he said.
Farmingdale State College
Farmingdale State College is in the design phase of a $75 million building that will be the Center for Computer Science and Information Technology Systems. President John S. Nader said groundbreaking is expected in the coming year.
The center will house the college’s Division of Computing, which will integrate several closely related programs, including computer programming and information systems, computer science, computer security technology, geographic information systems, as well as the graduate program in technology management. The project has been paid for with funding from the Empire State Development’s Long Island Investment Fund (LIIF) and the State University Construction Fund.
Part of that funding came from the $46.5 million announced last year by Gov. Kathy Hochul — allocated for Farmingdale, Long Island University and Stony Brook University to prepare students and others for careers in high-technology fields.
Earlier this year, state officials announced $5 million in state funding for Molloy University in Rockville Centre for the construction of a building for the Center for Health Care Workforce Development.
Through a combination of state and other funding, the State University Construction Fund manages some major projects to build or renovate state-of-the-art facilities for SUNY students on Long Island, including rehabilitating the Natural Science Building at SUNY Old Westbury and building a multidisciplinary engineering building at Stony Brook. In addition, there are about 50 active projects on the Nassau and Suffolk campuses for smaller-scope renovations and infrastructure improvements, SUNY officials said Thursday.
Stony Brook University
While not on Long Island, the $700 million initiative to build a center for climate research, education and workforce training on Governors Island in New York Harbor is being led by Stony Brook. Officials said at the time of the April announcement that the New York Climate Exchange has the potential to create more than 9,000 jobs.
Officials with the Climate Exchange said the program has completed the design phase and in early November Stephen Hammer, who served as a climate adviser at the World Bank for the past decade, was named as its founding chief executive officer.
"As communities across the world struggle to adapt to the effects of climate change, we are putting a highly credentialed leader at the helm to expedite solutions scalable for any community. We look forward to working with Dr. Hammer and our dozens of partners to create scalable solutions,” Stony Brook President Maurie McInnis said in a statement.