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New Germanna Science and Engineering Building and Information Commons goes where no building has gone before, mixes technology and humanity in a way that could help area live long and prosper

MORE: Read more news from Fredericksburg

eft to right, VCCS Chancellor Glenn DuBois, GCC Student Government Association President Morgen Jones, Spotsylvania Board of Supervisors Chairwoman Ann L. Heidig, Germanna President David A. Sam, GCC College Board Chairwoman Jill Johnson and U.S. Rep Rob Wittman help Germanna President David A. Sam cut the ribbon today at the Grand Opening of the college's Science and Engineering Building and Information Commons. A crowd of 250 looked on, then toured the high-tech green building. --Photo by Barbara Taylor

    Mr. Spock would approve. So would Capt. Kirk and Dr. McCoy.
Germanna Community College’s new science facility combines logic and humanity in a way that creates beauty.
When Germanna opened its gleaming new Science & Engineering Building and Information Commons to the public Friday,  a crowd of about 250 at the college’s Fredericksburg Area Campus in Spotsylvania heard GCC President David A.Sam say the building itself was designed to be a teaching tool.    The high-tech green building, he said, is a giant, real-world, fully functional laboratory.     In a way, it is also a humanity lab.  
   It was designed to foster human relationships as well as to prepare students for jobs in science and engineering, including green jobs, and to raise awareness among all students and the community about how green technology works.  A National Wildlife Federation grant has paid to train students to act as tour guides for the community  
   There is much more to the facility than cold tech.    It was planned, he said, to bring students and faculty together in a warm, engaging human way that will promote the best possible atmosphere for learning. 
      Its sprawling library with an entire wall of glass that provides an uplifting view of the new Campus Green will have a coffee shop. The entire building is bright, airy, comfortable and welcoming.  “It was designed to help this college be what the urban sociologist Ray Oldenburg calls ‘a great good place,’ “ Dr. Sam said. He said it is a place “for informal gatherings away from work, away from home, that are essential to community and public life and central to local democracy and community vitality.” 

Germanna's new Science and Engineering Building and Information Commons open-end Friday at the college's Fredericksburg Area Campus in Spotsylvania-Photo by Mike Zitz

 

     The $25 million, 50,000 square foot building has a working windmill to teach students about wind power as an alternative power source.   
    Its vegatative green roof will teach engineering students about building design that conserves energy via natural insulation against heat and cold.
      And it will double as an open-air biology lab that allows students to learn how indigenous plants thrive while conserving water.   
     Students observe natural illumination from a skylight conserving electricity, while automated shades go up and down as the sun moves through the sky, teaching them a way to save on heating and cooling costs.  
    Virginia Community College Chancellor Glenn DuBois thanked Gov. Bob McDonnell, the state legislature and the Spotsylvania Board of Supervisors for their support of the project during uncertain financial times.   Dubois called the new building “spectacular,” but added: “What really impresses me is not so much the buildings, but the people who will work in them–the faculty and staff who will work in them and change lives, and change communities–and the students.”
   “Our community is enhanced by having educational institutions in the area that will help us with our workforce development … that will help us train our young people for the jobs of the 21st century,” said Spotsylvania Board of Supervisors Chairwoman Ann L. Heidig,  ”They need the skills, knowledge and ability to work in today’s workforce. Economic development for this area hinges on having a community with good schools and trained employees.” She said the new building will enhance the community’s ability to compete economically.   Dr. Sam pointed out that a study showed that 75 percent of Germanna students remain in the area and 90 percent remain in Virginia and the region and state benefit from the skills they learned at GCC.   U.S. Rep. Rob Wittman said the building symbolizes the importance of Virginia and America having world class schools.  “I know you have the the passion in your heart, as I do in mine, to make sure our education system is the world’s best. I am absolutely convinced our Virginia Community College System, with Germanna as its shining star, is indeed the best community college system in the United States.”

GCC's new windmill is a teaching tool for engineering students.--Photo by Mike Zitz

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