Three labs in Shrader Hall underwent renovations last summer and are now complete with the installation of new lab hoods for the students.
While the labs were updated over the years, this time, they were gutted and redesigned from scratch.
“New benches, cabinetry, safety equipment, projector and screen, floors, you name it, it was replaced,” said biology professor Dr. Matthew Waterman.
The labs now serve as dual purpose teaching labs. According to Dr. Pierre-Richard Cornely, chair ENC’s science and technology division, the labs are top of the line with professional level equipment and an all new layout.
“You can actually teach while students are going through lab sessions, which is a new concept in the way labs are being designed,” he said. “They are comparable with any labs anywhere in the US right now.”
The decision to update the labs wasn’t just about updating them to the latest in lab design. Making sure the labs reflected the college’s vision of project driven communication was also a driving force behind the decision, Cornely said.
“We were put in a situation where we had students come to visit, and we felt the labs were a problem,” Cornely said. “When you’re talking about project-driven communication, you have to go way beyond the material. You’re asking the students to use what they learned to solve real-world problems.”
The arrival of the new lab hoods prior to the spring semester marked the completion of the renovations. Dr. Joseph Williams, chair of the biology and chemistry department, said the hoods provide a safe work space for students, particularly when performing experiments that require venting.
“In my opinion, safety is the primary concern in lab,” Williams said. “I now can more keenly observe how each student is working with the more hood space available.”
Waterman agreed that the new labs are safer in more ways than one. He said he is happy the new design means students aren’t tripping over each other anymore as they move about the lab.
“There’s more space to walk around so we don’t bump into each other with hazardous chemicals,” said sophomore biology major Laurianna Frasson.
Frasson also said that having their own work space has helped her to make sure she doesn’t mix up her lab with other students’. Cornely said this actually improves the students’ ability to collaborate with one another while still doing their own work.
“[The lab is] designed for student collaboration,” Cornely said. “Students can break out in teams, discuss a particular problem they’re dealing with and then go back and work.”