Saint Vincent College dedicates $5.8 million engineering, biomedical science building
Two seemingly disparate fields — engineering and human anatomy — have found a common home in a new state-of-the-art facility that was 10 years in the making at Saint Vincent College.
The James F. Will Engineering and Biomedical Science Hall, dedicated on Thursday, had its origins in the friendship of James Will, an engineer, and Ralph Liberatore, a biomedical entrepreneur. Both men are on the Saint Vincent board of directors.
“They had a shared vision of what we needed ... and they brought that vision to (Executive Vice President) Fr. Paul Taylor,” said college spokesman Don Orlando.
Will and Liberatore were among the speakers at the dedication of the $5.8 million hall, which is an extension of the Sis and Herman Dupre Science Pavilion on campus.
“This state-of-the-art facility will ensure Saint Vincent's leadership in the sciences for years to come,” said Will, who was college president from 2000 to 2006.
The two-story, 11,260-square-foot building houses two large laboratories — one on each floor — a student/faculty research laboratory, a senior projects laboratory, a sterilization and prep room with walk-in cooler, two faculty offices, a lab manager's office, a scrub room, two locker rooms, two restrooms and a lounge area.
The biomedical science program is on the first floor, and the engineering science program is on the second floor.
The latter program, started in 2013, is growing and needed a home, said Dr. Paul Follansbee, James F. Will Professor of Engineering Science.
“(The program) has far surpassed our projections, and we now have a total of 85 engineering majors — 35 in the 3/2 program and 50 in the engineering science major,” Follansbee said. “I project an enrollment of more than 100 within a few years.”
Students will have access to equipment such as microscopes, a furnace, a hardness tester and two 3-D printers. The three engineering laboratory courses will have access to a materials lab, an engineering design lab and an open space lab where students can work on their projects.
On the first floor, the showpiece space is the human anatomy lab, also known as the cadaver lab, which has six operating stations and a teaching station equipped with cameras.
The lab will give undergraduate students the opportunity to work on human cadavers. Such research usually is reserved for graduate students, Orlando said.
“This is priceless — something they have never been able to do before,” said Dr. Caryl L. Fish, associate professor of chemistry. “(The lab) also gives our students an opportunity to interact with doctors, surgeons and other professionals in training.”
Krista Jobe, human anatomy lab manager, said the lab eventually will have computerized robots for the training of surgeons who do knee replacements and similar operations.
“The teaching opportunity is awesome,” said Dr. Michael Rhodes, associate professor of biology. “For the first time, we will have the opportunity to study human tissues in addition to our animal specimens. It will be very beneficial when these students get to medical school.”
All human remains will be handled in accordance with the “core values” of Saint Vincent as a Catholic institution, Rhodes said.
Major private donors to the building were Will, Liberatore and the Allegheny Foundation. Because of the private funding sources, the building is paid for, Orlando said.
General architect for the project was MacLachlan, Cornelius and Filoni of Pittsburgh, general contractor was Jendoco and engineering consultant was H.F. Lenz Co.