Faculty moving in, checking out new HGTC engineering and technology building

vgrooms@thesunnews.comJuly 2, 2013 

— Horry-Georgetown Technical College’s newest teaching tool is almost open for business.

The college’s engineering and technology building, with its modern angles, beams and exposed wires for learning, will be ready when classes begin in August, but faculty members already are enjoying the large windows that let in lots of natural light and familiarizing themselves with their new teaching environment.

“There is so much new stuff in here,” said Vince Myers, HGTC director of technical support services. “We want people to get in here and get their feet wet.”

Faculty members toured the facility last week to inspect their classrooms, to offer feedback and to learn how to teach in a much more high-tech world. Most of them will move in after next week’s July 4 holiday break, but a handful of professors, including Ann Rovetto, began moving two weeks ago into the three-story structure, which is now the new 300 building.

“It’s a nice building,” said Rovetto, who teaches information technology. “I’m glad they thought to put us over here.”

Construction began about 16 months ago on the $12.5 million facility, which is part of the college’s master plan to bring the more than 50-year-old Conway campus up to date. It is one of the capital projects being funded by the penny sales tax that was dedicated to education in Horry County and was built on a former parking area. The older 300 building, which has energy and weatherization problems, is one of several slated to be demolished and will be replaced with more parking.

The new building doubles the amount of space now dedicated to engineering and will be home to the college’s civil engineering technology and electronics engineering technology programs, as well as construction project management, golf and sports turf management, and computer science. Smart classrooms will house the best in computers, projectors, screens and sound; more than 250 iPads will be available to various departments; and the whole place is 100 percent wired and wireless for the Internet, Myers said. There also are many nooks where students can gather, study or just relax.

A unique feature of the building is its collaboration rooms, which were made to encourage student engagement, Myers said. Students will be able to plug in their own devices at stations along the room’s perimeter, and the instructor will operate from the center of the room, with the ability to project any of their screens on the walls to share with the class.

“The instructor has complete control,” Myers said.

In addition to classrooms, the new building will house the data center for all three HGTC campuses - Conway, Grand Strand and Georgetown. It also was built to withstand a category 4 hurricane, is LEED Silver certified as a “green” building and has a diesel engine generator that will increase backup power from two hours to three or four days, Myers said.

Rene Smith, HGTC’s assistant vice president and dean of academic support, said the college’s Teaching Excellence Center, which provides support to all full- and part-time faculty, is partnering with the IT department to get the staff trained on the new technology.

“They’re very enthusiastic and have embraced technology,” Smith said. “The collaborative learning spaces especially will create the opportunity for them to have a lot of group work. ... It’ll be a new experience for us.”

Contact VICKI GROOMS at 443-2401 or follow her at Twitter.com/TSN_VickiGrooms.

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