The Hodson Science and Technology Center at Hood College is set to get $20 million worth of expansions and renovations.
Construction is scheduled to begin next summer, college President Andrea Chapdelaine said in an interview. The project will add about 30,000 square feet to the building, easing space constraints on the college’s science students and researchers, Chapdelaine said.
Plus, she said, it will give Hood’s growing number of STEM students access to higher-tech lab equipment.
“They’re really excited to have brand-new state-of-the-art equipment, facilities, technology,” Chapdelaine said. “And just enough room.”
The college announced this week that a $6 million grant from the Maryland Independent College and University Association will support the project. It’s received other grants, too, Chapdelaine said, but the school is still fundraising to meet its final goal.
The Hodson Center — which houses all of Hood’s science programs, from physics to nursing — was originally constructed in 1957. Crews completed additions in 2000 and 2014.
The building’s capacity has been stretched thin as Hood has added to its STEM offerings in recent years. Programs like sustainability, coastal watersheds study, cybersecurity and bioinformatics didn’t exist when the building was planned.
Hood is also rolling out a new school of Behavioral and Health Sciences to accommodate growth in majors like psychology, public health and more. All of those students need to take basic lab science classes in the Hodson Center, too, Chapdelaine said.
In addition to renovating the center and building more lab space, crews will reconfigure the lab installed by California-based pharmaceutical company Kite. The company partnered with Hood last year to train Kite employees and Hood students in immunotherapy drug production.
Kite focuses on cell therapy and has a manufacturing facility in Urbana. When the Hodson Center renovations are complete, Chapdelaine said, the Kite lab at Hood will be available for “all the area’s biotech to use for training and research.”
“We’re really excited to open that up to the Frederick community,” Chapdelaine said.
Craig Laufer, a biology professor and co-chair of Hood’s biology department, said he was eager to have more lab space available.
Professors teaching an ecology lab and professors teaching a microbiology lab need entirely different sets of equipment, Laufer said. Since space is tight in the current Hodson Center, that means professors teaching more than one course need to spend time each week switching out one set of lab equipment for another, he said.
“If we’re able to dedicate the lab space to one particular thing in a semester, that’s going to make life a lot easier for everyone,” Laufer said.
Faculty are meeting with architects on the project to pitch ideas, he said. The project will include spaces for students and professors to meet and collaborate.
“We’re all looking forward to this,” Laufer said. “It’s kind of a unique opportunity. It doesn’t come along very often for us.”