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New Modular Science Lab Installed at MiraCosta College

COAST CITIES — MiraCosta College has installed a new, high-tech science building that promises to help relieve some of the student demand for chemistry courses.In May of 2012, the Board of Trustees authorized spending up to $4.7 million on several new modular laboratory buildings at the Oceanside and San Elijo campuses. These buildings, based upon permanent structures included in the 2011 Comprehensive Master Plan, are needed to help relieve student wait lists in high-demand courses.

The district planned to spend some $2.8 million on modular science labs and a prep room at the San Elijo Campus, and roughly $1.5 million for modular chemistry labs and a prep room at the Oceanside Campus. When the vote was taken, trustees hoped the temporary structures would be in place only until permanent buildings funded by a facilities bond could be completed.

Plans have also changed at the San Elijo Campus, Benard said. When college officials began crunching the numbers, they realized they could build the first phase of a permanent structure there for an additional $1 million. Construction of a new science building at the San Elijo Campus is set to start in December, Benard said, and should be completed in time for the fall 2014 semester. Resources to pay for the buildings are coming from the district’s reserve funds.

However, after the failure to pass a 2012 facilities bond, it became clear the temporary buildings in Oceanside would be needed longer than originally expected. Changes were made that increased the total cost.

The first fully sustainable modular science labs – twin Gen 7 models at a cost of $1.9 million – were delivered to the Oceanside Campus on June 17. The labs will be ready for occupancy for the beginning of classes this fall.

“This delivery will allow us to expand our course offerings in modern, updated facilities,” said Mary Benard, vice president of instructional services.

A lack of space has made it difficult for students to register for lab courses in the biology, chemistry and nursing programs.

“It will help alleviate a backlog of students who are waiting to take science classes,” added David Broad, Board of Trustees president. “It will serve MiraCosta College well.”

The purchase of these buildings fits in with a Strategic Plan that says “MiraCosta Community College District will become a vanguard educational institution committed to innovation and researched best practices, broad access to higher education, and environmental sustainability.” Among the district’s Institutional Objectives is “to develop and implement environmentally sustainable policies, practices, and systems.”

“We decided to build one that was completely sustainable,” said Tom Macias, MiraCosta College’s director of facilities. The 3,360-square-foot labs delivered June 17 run on photovoltaic power and are LEED Platinum Level-worthy.