Grand Opening commemorates new STEM Building

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Virginia Western Community College welcomed community members from across the Roanoke Region to celebrate the Grand Opening of its new $37-million STEM Building on Thursday. More than 300 attendees heard from local elected officials, business leaders and students about the impact the new facility will have on growing the local economy through collaboration and innovation.

“This building will drive our region forward in the fields
of STEM and health professions,” said Dr. Robert H. Sandel, President of
Virginia Western. “It will be the home of innovation and the next bright idea.
It will help the Commonwealth of Virginia continue to be one of the best places
in America to do business.”

The Grand Opening event had a student-focused feel as
recent alumni introduced each of the speakers and shared details on how their
STEM education at Virginia Western has impacted them. Following the speakers’
portion, faculty members showed attendees the facility, labs and the
cutting-edge new equipment.

“To me, the building is about preparing students for jobs
that don’t exist yet,” said Amy White, Dean of STEM. “The space allows them to
focus on critical thinking, problem-solving skills and communication skills.
It’s not about the equipment. It’s not about the buttons on the machine. It’s
about why the buttons are on the machine, and how the students can solve
problems using the latest and greatest equipment.”

Speakers such as Delegate Terry Austin, Roanoke City Mayor
Sherman Lea, Roanoke businessman W. Heywood Fralin and Richard Farthing of
Virginia’s Community Colleges spoke about how investment in higher education,
and STEM in particular, will continue to drive the region’s economic growth.

“One of the most important players in this [region’s] movement to a knowledge-based economy is Virginia Western Community College.
Its growth not only in size but also in stature has been remarkable and this
growth has focused on quality,” said Fralin, a member of the Virginia Western
Educational Foundation Board of Directors. “There has been a recent focus on
recruiting top business leaders throughout the region to serve on the
Foundation’s Board of Directors, and [the college’s recent] accomplishments are
a result of the leadership of the outstanding administration of Virginia
Western Community College and the Foundation Board of Directors which has
included visionaries like the late Charles Steger. Together they have produced
for this region one of the best community colleges in the entire system.
Needless to say, we are proud of Virginia Western Community College.”

Programs that will be located in the STEM Building include
Mechatronics, Engineering, Biology, Chemistry, Biotechnology, Physics and
Mathematics. New cutting-edge equipment includes a phase contrast fluorescence
microscope, a multiphoton confocal microscope, a scanning electron microscope,
four new spectrometers, process control units, a 5 axis CNC milling machine, a
24-foot water flume and a collaborative robot.

To view photos from the Grand Opening, visit:

To find out more about Virginia Western’s STEM programs,
or call (855) 874-6690.

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