ROANOKE, Va. – After five years of planning and construction and more than $30 million spent, the largest building on Virginia Western Community College's campus is open.
"I really feel like there is power in place," VWCC STEM School Dean Amy White said.
That power, White said, is the power to motivate and inspire students to reach beyond what they think they're capable of.
"We have some technology that was not previously available, like a scanning electron microscope, a confocal microscope. We also have added a biotechnology suite. We were offering biotechnology classes but not in the format that we can now," White said. "We also enhanced our mechatronics lab and our robotics laboratories with some additional equipment, process control equipment, a collaborative robot."
A confocal microscope improves the clarity of whatever is being looked at compared to a regular microscope.
A mechatronics lab helps students learn about the engineering of mechanical systems, including the use of robots.
"There's the first day of school nervousness that you see, but there's also genuine excitement, and everybody's peering into all the different rooms."
Virginia Western President Dr. Robert Sandel said the STEM Building could have a big impact on the local economy.
"We will be able to respond to business and industry with their needs because of this building," Sandel said.
The building itself, he said, is a response to business and industry.
"It's probably a world-class STEM complex that will compete with any building in the country," Sandel said.
It's a bold claim but a good challenge for students to live up to as the STEM Building's history begins.