Dordt College News

Groundbreaking set for Dordt College Science and Technology Center expansion

April 22, 2013

The Dordt College Board of Trustees has given a green light to the first phase of a major Science and Technology Center expansion at Dordt College. In an April 18 meeting, board members approved a Spring 2013 groundbreaking, signaling confidence in the college’s plans and fundraising progress for the project.

“The Science and Technology Center expansion is an important part of building for the college’s future,” said Dr. Lloyd VanderKwaak, chair of the Board of Trustees. “Taking on this project at this time will help us continue to serve our students with top-notch laboratories, classrooms, and learning opportunities for decades to come.”

Dordt College has scheduled the groundbreaking for May 9, at 12:45 p.m.

In recent years, the growth in enrollment in Dordt’s natural science division has outpaced the increase in enrollment in the other two academic divisions. Students in the sciences also have had a remarkable record of success, with pass rates in the top tier nationally on the Fundamentals of Engineering exam and the nursing NCLEX exam, along with four in five pre-med students being accepted into medical school compared to one in three nationally.

“We’ve been blessed with growing enrollment in the sciences, and we expect that to continue,” said Dordt College President Dr. Erik Hoekstra. Citing David Kinnaman’s recent book, You Lost Me—Why Young Christians Are Leaving the Church, Hoekstra continued, “One reason young people disengage is a perceived ‘anti-science’ bias within the church, but we embrace all aspects of God’s creation. With this addition to our campus, we want to clearly say ‘Our World Belongs to God’ and prepare students to be faithful followers of Christ in this important arena.”

The comprehensive remodeling of the current structure will provide a better building layout, allow for further growth, and connect the science department to other academic areas on campus for more collaboration across disciplines.

“Today’s world demands science majors with more interdisciplinary training,” said Dr. Ethan Brue, professor of engineering and the lead planner for the project. “Expanding and updating our facilities allows us to accommodate the growing number of students and provide cutting-edge teaching and lab experiences.”

The college has raised $8 million for the $12 million first phase. “The excitement and enthusiasm for this project that we have already experienced among our alumni and donor communities gives us great confidence moving forward,” said John Baas, vice president for advancement at Dordt.

Phase 1 of the Science and Technology Center expansion will create a two-story addition connecting the current science building to the classroom building containing faculty offices, technology-enabled classrooms, computer learning labs, informal learning spaces, and areas of public presentation and displays of ongoing work. An engineering design and project wing will include new project areas and laboratories dedicated to civil structures and engineering mechanics, thermodynamic and fluid mechanics, foundations and soil mechanics, electronics, instrumentation and mechatronics, solar energy engineering, and materials science.

A high-bay work area in the addition will provide space for student design teams to develop, build, and test their prototypes.

Subsequent phases of the project will include a modern teaching and research green house to serve agriculture and biology. An expanded medical skills laboratory will be added to the current nursing building during a later phase, as well as new research and teaching labs in biology and chemistry and additional project and classroom space for mathematics and computer science, renovation of the agriculture and physics labs, and the addition of a field project laboratory and astronomy observatory. The entire project will take place in several phases and is expected to cost $20 million.

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