Central Baptist College is completing a new science center with state-of-the art technology in the Harold E. Cooper Education Complex. It is expected to be finished by the time the fall semester begins on Aug. 20.

President Terry Kimbrow said the new center encompasses the area that was the former cafeteria and kitchen, which were located in the Mabee Student Services Complex when it was built in 1997. Since then, the kitchen has been used for storage and the cafeteria as a gathering place for students, he said.

The new science center is 6,500 square feet and has five labs (two biology labs, two chemistry labs and one research lab), one large classroom and faculty offices.

Until now, the science department has been operating out of two labs located in the A.R. Reddin Fieldhouse, which was constructed in the 1960s, Kimbrow said.

"So we’re more than doubling our lab space," he said. "It’s helping us support three new bachelor’s degree programs; biology, biotechnology and health sciences. These three programs, along with a portion of the construction, are being funded with a $1.9 million Title III grant."

Kimbrow said the college is in the third of five years of the Title III Strengthening Institutions Grant. Last year, the school hired two new faculty to support the new science programs.

"Obviously, we are looking for (the science center) to bring us many more students. We have offered two-year degrees in the sciences, but after that, they have had to transfer. These bachelor’s degrees literally began last year, so we began enrolling them before the labs were complete."

Dr. Gary McAlister, vice president for academic affairs, and Ryan Brown, IT assistant, commented on the science center’s technology. 

The large classroom that seats 45 has a podium with a touch smart PC installed that connects wirelessly to a projector. The room has a large automated screen. The smart PC has a web cam built in so that professors can record their lectures and put them online for students who miss a class. The classroom has a document camera as well.

Labs are also equipped with document cameras, projectors and screens. If the class is doing a dissection, the instructor can zoom in with the document camera, and all students can view the dissection from their lab station rather than trying to gather around the instructor. All professors will also have tablet PCs that will project wirelessly, which they can carry around the room during the lab.

"It gives them a lot more flexibility in their teaching," McAlister said.

(Staff writer Rachel Parker Dickerson can be reached by e-mail at rachel.dickerson@thecabin.net or by phone at 505-1277. Send us your news at www.thecabin.net/submit)