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Renovation plan for NSCC's Powers Science and Math Building approved

STAFF REPORT • Jun 22, 2020 at 12:15 PM

BLOUNTVILLE — A building that hosts thousands of Northeast State Community College students each semester recently received approval for a structural renovation project.

The R. Wade Powers Science and Mathematics building at NSCC’s Blountville campus serves as the hub for hundreds of science and mathematics courses required for students from most every academic major. Named for the college’s third president, the building will undergo foundation stabilization after the project request received approval from the state in June.

Director of Plant Operations Pete Miller said settling of the building’s foundation had been an ongoing concern. The new project mirrors a similar project three years ago to stabilize the foundation of the structure’s east side. The new project is expected to use the same stabilization plan for the south and west sides of the building.

In the prior project, steel pipes were placed to channel concrete underground and solidify the foundation. Miller said the design and bid process would get underway later this year. He said the project might not begin until the 2021 spring semester concludes in order to avoid classrooms disruptions.

“Every student seeking a degree must come through the Powers building sooner or later,” said Chris Hitechew, dean of the Science Division housed in the facility. “Most everyone who takes core courses in science come through our building before they graduate.” 

The math and science classes taught there serve as the bedrock for many students’ majors, particularly in health-related fields. Students pursuing degrees or certificates in Advanced Technologies also visit the building to take required courses.

PART OF MASTER PLAN

Former NSCC President Wade Powers oversaw the building’s groundbreaking, construction and welcoming of students. Powers said the state government, private benefactors and the Tennessee Board of Regents formed a long-term master plan to develop the college’s campus and role in the region.

“We had undergone a transition from a technical institute to a community college,” Powers said. “We began developing courses we had not been able to teach before.”

Powers said NSCC staff and faculty knew they needed to strengthen the offerings of science and mathematics courses to benefit students. He recalled how then-Dean of Sciences Lana Hamilton prepared the curriculum and identified the needed lab equipment. Construction of the 25,000 square-foot building was completed in 1995.

“It helped us focus on what we needed to get to let them know we were serious about those courses,” Powers recalled. “We were a community college, and we wanted them to know that we were legitimate in their minds.”

NSCC also is preparing to open the Technical Education Complex (TEC) later this year, which Powers said also marks a legacy of learning. The new TEC building links the next step forward to the Powers building and the college’s dedication to science and mathematics opportunities for students.

“That building it is so amazing to me with its possibilities,” Powers said of the TEC. “It has been amazing to me that almost everything we put in the master plan has now been built.”

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