The architect’s rendering of a proposed SCALE-UP science lab at Southwestern Michigan College’s Niles Area Campus will offer a flexible learning environment. The lab is part of a $3 million renovation project planned for the Niles campus beginning this summer. Photo submitted
The architect’s rendering of a proposed SCALE-UP science lab at Southwestern Michigan College’s Niles Area Campus will offer a flexible learning environment. The lab is part of a $3 million renovation project planned for the Niles campus beginning this summer. Photo submitted

Archived Story

$3 million renovation planned for SMC Niles

Published 2:42pm Tuesday, March 19, 2013

DOWAGIAC —A $3 million renovation project and an expansion of academic programs is planned for Southwestern Michigan’s College’s Niles campus this spring.

The SMC Board of Trustees announced the project at Monday’s regular board meeting.

College President David Mathews said the first phase of the project is expected to begin this spring with the core academic and advising areas, and the learning center.

It will also involve the creation of two new SCALE-UP science labs. SCALE-UP science labs (Student-Centered Active Learning Environment for Undergraduate Programs) are collaborative learning environments originally designed by North Carolina State University through a National Science Foundation grant. Mathews said SCALE-UP labs are being adopted because they facilitate the hands-on, student-centered approach to science instruction used by SMC faculty.

In addition to physical renovation of the facility, a number of key programs are being expanded or added to the Niles campus. These include certified nursing assistant, pre-nursing classes including human anatomy, chemistry fundamentals, speech and general psychology, and business courses such as accounting and an introduction to business, as well as general core classes for the college’s transfer baccalaureate degrees.

The college will continue to offer a number of advanced technology programs at its M-TEC facility, including precision machining technology, mechatronics, welding and industrial technology.

Bids for the renovation project will be opened at the April 15 board meeting with construction beginning in early May. Phase I will be completed in time for the fall semester, which begins Sept. 3. Subsequent phases will happen between semesters to provide uninterrupted classroom enhancements, Mathews said.

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