West Campus Changing Around with STEM

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By Michael Dean Smith

A number of construction projects will begin this year in an effort to improve and update facilities. Major additions of laboratory, automotive, and first responder education facilities will be coupled with upgrades to existing facilities built in 1975.

The only current impacts of the ambitious upgrades are being felt by users of recreation facilities. Construction on the $34 million STEM Center, on the northeast corner of west campus, is affecting locker rooms for recreation facilities.

Athletic Director Mark Rodriguez said the STEM Center construction will result in the locker rooms being moved from the basement to ground level. “It will be an improvement, definitely,” Rodriguez said. Construction is slated to be complete by fall 2019.

The Automotive Technology Program will soon see additional course offerings ahead of new construction. Western Campus President Dr. Donna Imhoff said students in GM ASEP classes next August will learn alongside students in an incoming Ford ASSET program.

Construction bids on a 15,000-square-foot addition to the Advanced Automotive Technology Center, on the north end of campus, are planned for early this year. The Public Safety Training Center, on the northwest corner of west campus, will also see major upgrades. Imhoff said she met with Parma Heights officials in February to discuss the planned mock village that will aid in training first responders in various urban settings. Plans for the training village date back to the center’s beginning in 2014, according to news reports at the time.

Construction bids are currently being accepted for that project, according to school documents. Imhoff, in her second year with Cuyahoga Community College, said a major investment will be at least $15 million for existing facilities, including upgrades to bathrooms. “That is what I’ve received the most complaints about,” Imhoff said, referring to the aging accommodations across the sprawling 43-year-old campus.

All of the upgrades are being funded by a $227 million bond measure approved by Cuyahoga County voters in 2017. East, Metro, and Westshore campuses will also see expansion and upgrades as part of the measure.

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