$26.3 million Bioscience and Health Careers Center going up at North Hennepin Community College

Beam signing scheduled Sept. 13


Sun POST Newspapers


The demand for medical and clinical laboratory technicians will increase an estimated 20.4 percent between 2010 and 2020, and the demand for registered nurses will jump an estimated 22 percent.

Those projections from the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development are among the reasons administrators at North Hennepin Community College say the state’s $26.3 million investment in a “Bioscience and Health Careers Center” on the college’s Brooklyn Park campus is worthwhile.

“The STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) areas are certainly … on the increase in terms of employment opportunities,” said Lisa Larson, North Hennepin’s acting president.

In 2009 the State Legislature approved almost $600,000 for designing the bioscience center. The Legislature approved $26.3 million for construction in 2010.

Three years later, the bones of the structure are visible on the campus at 85th and West Broadway Avenues. A public beam-signing ceremony is scheduled for Friday, Sept. 13.

When completed next fall, the 65,000-square foot building will include two nursing labs, three simulation rooms for medical training and six science labs, as well as lecture halls, conference rooms, offices and a student lounge.

Larson said the building will provide much-needed space for the school’s science programs, which are cramped in the current science building. Some science classes will continue to meet in the current facility once the new building is complete.

In addition to reducing crowded classrooms and labs, Larson said the bioscience center will expand opportunities on campus.

“Our goal is to provide as many opportunities for our students (as possible),” she said.

One program that will benefit is the school’s undergraduate research program. Since 2007, more than 50 students have been involved in on-campus scientific research and have produced nearly 60 presentations for professional and academic conferences.

“We’re known nationally for our undergraduate research,” said Director of Marketing and Communications Janet McClelland. “It is unique to have such a strong program at the two-year level.”

But right now the college is operating the program “literally out of a closet area in the science building,” according to Jane Reinke, vice president of academic affairs.

The new building will allow the college to expand its research capacity.

The Bioscience and Health Careers Center will also increase opportunities for students to earn bachelor’s degrees at North Hennepin.

Although community colleges don’t typically offer four-year programs, North Hennepin allows students to complete some four-year degrees on campus through partnerships with other state schools. Bachelor’s degree programs in the sciences currently include biochemistry and biotechnology, nursing and medical laboratory science.

With the new building, the school and its partners will be able to offer additional four-year degrees in the sciences.

“It’s just a great opportunity for students to complete their whole bachelor of science degree right here,” Larson said.

The bioscience building will connect to the rest of the campus via a covered walkway and will feature an outdoor courtyard, as well as a student lounge with a fireplace that will be visible from 85th Avenue. Much of the building facing 85th will feature glass.

According to Vice President of Finance and Facilities Dan Hall, the glass is intended to make the college seem more visible and open to the community, and the lounge should encourage students to stay on campus longer so they can build relationships and get support.

Hall also said the building itself will adhere to high standards, including energy-efficiency requirements.

“It’s going to be a very high-tech building,” he said.

Hall believes the Bioscience and Health Careers Center will attract attention from potential donors and encourage continued industry partnerships.

“We’re very excited about it,” Hall said. “This is long-anticipated.”

So far, he said, the building is “well within schedule and within budget.”

The public is invited to attend the beam signing and watch construction crews “fly” the beam into position atop the building.

The event is 11:30 a.m. Friday, Sept. 13, at North Hennepin Community College, 7411 85th Ave. N., Brooklyn Park.

Info: tinyurl.com/nhccbioscience.


Contact Jonathan Young at [email protected]