Grand opening unveils state-of-the-art science and allied health training facility

11.18.2013 | By Andrea Vasquez


Pictured left to right: Bottom row: Mr. John Moon, Jr., Secretary, San Jacinto College Board of Trustees; Mrs. Almatha Taylor, Board of Directors, San Jacinto College Foundation; Dr. Brenda Hellyer, Chancellor, San Jacinto College; Mrs. Marie Flickinger, Member, San Jacinto College Board of Trustees; Mr. Dan Mims, San Jacinto College Board of Trustees chair; Dr. Brenda Jones, Provost, San Jacinto College; and Mr. Brad Hance, Member, San Jacinto College Board of Trustees. Second row: Mrs. Kimberly Bonnen, representing Texas State Rep. Greg Bonnen, Ms. Lauren Laake, representing City of Houston Councilman Dave Martin, and Mr. Christian Bionat, representing Congressman Pete Olsen. Top row: Mr. Scott Greer, Brooks and Sparks Engineering; Mr. Colby Kreft, Rizzo & Associates; Mr. Robert Trabanino, Bay-IBI Group Architects; and Ms. Kara Convert, JE Dunn Construction. Photo credit: Andrea Vasquez, San Jacinto College marketing, public relations, and government affairs department.

Grand opening unveils state-of-the-art science and allied health training facility

Andrea Vasquez -- November 19, 2013



HOUSTON – San Jacinto College recently welcomed community members, elected officials, College employees, and students to the new science and allied health building grand opening event at the South Campus.

The new building is funded by a 2008 bond referendum that provided $295 million toward new facilities and renovations at all three San Jacinto College campuses. Along with the North Campus science and allied health building which officially opened this July, and the Central Campus science building that opened last year, the South Campus’ 155,000 square foot three-story science and allied health facility is the largest of the three. Incorporating state-of-the-art lecture halls, classrooms, conference rooms, and simulation labs, the building provides students a modern learning environment in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) education.

"This building is state of the art," said Dr. Brenda Hellyer, San Jacinto College chancellor. “Over the last 10 years, growth in STEM careers in the United States has increased at a rate three times higher than non-STEM careers, and those working in STEM are earning 26 percent more. This new facility allows us to provide our community with highly-trained employees that are ready to transfer on to earn a higher degree or enter the workforce with the necessary skill set to pursue a career.”

Eight science and allied health programs are housed in the building. Science programs include biology, chemistry, physics, and geology. Allied health programs include vocational nursing, associate degree nursing (ADN) mobility, pharmacy technology, and the physical therapy assistant program. The first floor is comprised of general-purpose lecture halls and classrooms; the second floor consists of the health science program classrooms and labs; and the third floor houses the natural science classroom and lab spaces.

The facility also features a stand-alone simulation center that provides six simulation labs including a mock emergency room/intensive care space complete with a nursing station, individual patient rooms, and an administrative support area. Four new Laerdal Sim manikins, including the SimMom and SimMan 3G, are among the latest training technologies within the center. While all of the Sim manikins provide critical physiological measurement and observation training capabilities, the SimMom enables students to go through simulated labor and delivery scenarios, and the SimMan 3G has a special feature allowing for blinking, responsive eye secretions, and pupillary responses to light. From a separate control room, faculty can create standard and emergency scenarios using the Sim manikins, monitoring diagnostic readings and the students’ procedures and technique through cameras in each patient room.

A new pharmacy medication suite, designed to model modern pharmaceutical environments, features a walk-up window, computer assisted patient entry systems, cash register, medication refrigeration and dispensing machines, and compounding equipment. The physical therapy assistant lab is equipped with electric height adjustment plinths, hot and cold pack machines, paraffin bath, Hoyer lift, ultrasound, electrotherapy machines, massage tables, whirlpool wet area, and full physical therapy gym.

“We know the importance of technology and how it is playing a bigger role in our health care and STEM careers,” said Dr. Alexander Okwonna, dean of natural sciences and health sciences. “This building allows us to use that technology and infuse it into our curriculum to help prepare our students for the future. But more importantly, this building has inspired us to dream. This building has inspired our faculty to dream some of the most amazing activities that they have incorporated into their classroom for their students. This building has also inspired our students and raised their expectations, which you can see as they walk through the halls.”

One feature unique to this building is an astronomy observatory and observation deck, where students have the best, unobstructed views of the skies. The observatory is equipped with a new Meade 16-inch reflector telescope. Along with providing support for the meteorology and astronomy classes, the observation deck allows students to bring in their own portable telescopes to observe space as well as make weather observations and collect data from wired and wireless weather stations.

Along with all of the new training and educational technology upgrades in the $50.5 million facility, the building’s energy efficient construction also plays a large role. “San Jacinto College is an efficiently operated institution,” said Bryan Jones, associate vice chancellor of facilities and construction. “All of the College’s new buildings are targeted for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) silver certification from the U.S. Green Building Council. It was no great hurdle for us to meet the energy requirements. In a fully collaborative planning process with the natural and health sciences faculty, the level of sophistication and design has really been taken to a new level.”

The building makes extensive use of automated systems throughout controlling lighting, irrigation, and air conditioning, furthering energy cost savings. Other energy efficient features include a new environmentally friendly airside solution with Aircuity’s ventilation sensing and control technology, which continuously measures the air for volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and other air contaminates; high-tech glass in all of the windows that allow more light into the building while still maintaining the building’s efficient temperature; and purified water piped throughout all the science wet labs.

Most importantly, students feel that they are getting the most current STEM and health care career training, as well as technologically advanced academic instruction. “Everything is so real,” said licensed vocational nursing (LVN) student Shelby Franco. “That’s what they’re getting us prepared for, so that when we go out into the workforce, it’s going to be almost exactly what we’re experiencing now.”

For a video featuring highlights from the grand opening, visit


About San Jacinto College

Surrounded by monuments of history, industries and maritime enterprises of today, and the space age of tomorrow, San Jacinto College has been serving the citizens of East Harris County, Texas, for more than 50 years. The Achieving the Dream Leader College is committed to the goals and aspirations of a diverse population of 30,000 students in more than 200 degree and certificate options, including university transfer and career preparation. Students also benefit from the College’s job training programs, renowned for meeting the needs of growing industries in the region. San Jacinto College graduates contribute nearly $630 million each year to the Texas workforce. San Jacinto College. Your Goals. Your College.

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