SHADY GROVE – The Universities at Shady Grove (USG) officially opened the doors of its new Biomedical Sciences and Engineering Building on Thursday.
The Universities call the new building a state-of-the-art facility and expect it to expand offerings in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics, or STEM.
USG is a satellite campus for nine different educational institutions from Maryland public universities. Students at schools like the University of Maryland, Towson University and Bowie State University, among others, can take classes on the Shady Grove campus, and given the new building on-campus, students’ class options just expanded.
According to the USG, the new building will provide a space for classes like life sciences, cybersecurity, engineering and dentistry from different institutions around Maryland.
“One of the first and most exciting features of the new BSE will be a community dental clinic operated by the School of Dentistry,” USG officials said in the ceremony’s program. “Equipped with 24 operatory stations, the clinic will provide comprehensive dental care to community patients. Patient care will be provided by faculty-supervised dental students and dental hygiene students.”
The facility is a total of six levels and 220,000 square feet. It is expected that the new building will help USG grow its student capacity.
“(The building) will double the footprint of the campus and enable USG to increase enrollment capacity from its current 3,000-plus students to more than 7,500 over the next several years. It has been constructed as one of the most sustainably sourced laboratory buildings in the region and is on track to be certified as LEED Platinum, the highest level of certification issued by the U.S. Green Business Council,” USG officials said.
Stewart Edelstein, who serves as the executive director of the USG, noted in his remarks during the opening ceremony that the school has done the opposite of paving paradise to put up a parking lot.
“The great songwriter, Joni Mitchell, wrote the unforgettable lines ‘they paved paradise and put up a parking lot.’ Well, what used to be right here on this spot where I am standing I like to think that we replaced a parking lot with a paradise for STEM education,” he said.
Edelstein asked the audience to imagine a student coming to USG for the first time and realizing that the new facility is one meant especially for them.
“It truly takes a village community to build a building like this,” he said and went on to thank a long list of contributors who made the new $175-million facility possible.
Local officials like Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich and Montgomery County Councilmember Craig Rice also attended the grand opening of the facility and made a few remarks.
Elrich explained that he finds himself hopeful when he learns about the breakthroughs scientists can make in their fields.
“You get a sense of what’s possible when you read the science section (of the newspaper), and so it makes me feel better,” he said.
He went on to note that good ideas come spaces that provide opportunities for collaboration.
“People talk about collision space, places that bring people together to talk about their ideas and experiences, and people cross-fertilize each other, and ideas grow out of that. I think this is the perfect collision space, you will be able to walk through here and meet people doing different things, and I think this is the kind of space where the ideas are going to come from that we need to move forward.”
Councilmember Rice explained how USG created a more accessible opportunity for higher education.
“There are so many people that have been told that they can’t go to a four-year institution because they’re not dedicated enough students, and they’ve decided on their own to seek out their way (of getting a higher education),” he said.
The facility not only provides more access to education, but it also benefits the community as well. The building will house a dental clinic that will allow students to practice under the watchful eye of professors, and the community can come for tooth cleanings and dental care.
“This is truly a culmination of so many things that are so important to all of us when we talk about how government, working with the private sector can get things right. This needs to be a national example of how Montgomery County is leading,” Rice said.