CCAC to infuse $2M into Boyce Campus labs

| Wednesday, Aug. 28, 2013, 9:25 p.m.

Rebecca Kupiec's bachelor's degree from Westminster College in New Wilmington led her to a career as a molecular biology researcher in a lab, but she found the work less than gratifying.

“I wanted to go into the health care field and work with people rather than animals,” said Kupiec, 27, who began taking classes in the diagnostic medical sonography program last year at Community College of Allegheny County's Boyce Campus in Monroeville.

The CCAC program has provided her with needed hands-on training but the renovation of a lab in her program, which will include private areas similar to those in a hospital, will better prepare her to enter the field after she graduates with an associate degree in the spring, said Kupiec, a Butler resident.

Accreditation agencies are requiring that more technology be used in allied health programs, which is among the reasons CCAC is making about $2 million in lab renovations at Boyce, one official said.

“It's more challenging for the students in the programming,” said Richard L. Allison, dean of academic affairs at Boyce.

With 25 allied health programs offered at three of its four campuses, CCAC ranks seventh among community colleges nationwide in producing the most graduates annually in health professions and related programs, according to Community College Week, a Fairfax, Va.-based publication.

CCAC graduates about 500 students from its allied health programs each year, Allison said.

Most of the buildings at Boyce were built in the 1960s, so the labs have outlived their usefulness, he said.

In the old labs, students' backs face instructors in long, narrow rooms, Allison said.

The new labs will feature equipment to enable interactive lessons. Instructors will have computers equipped with Internet access and screen projectors, Allison said.

“With today's teaching methods, our new labs are going to be much more conducive to teaching,” he said.

CCAC recently completed a $500,000 upgrade of its radiologic technology lab, and one of the two analog X-ray machines there was replaced by a digital version, Allison said.

Work also recently started on the diagnostic medical sonography laboratory, he said.

Currently, that lab is two small rooms that require instructors to travel between them to supervise students, CCAC spokeswoman Elizabeth Johnston said. The $23,300 project will involve combining the rooms, she said.

The most expensive project will be a $1.2 million renovation of the chemistry laboratory, which will be relocated to space beside the physics lab. The old chemistry lab space will be used to expand biology labs, Allison said.

Because its paramedic program recently became a for-credit program, CCAC is adding a $265,900 paramedic lab.

Construction on the labs will be finished by December, Johnston said.

The college also is planning to renovate one chemistry and two biology labs at its South Campus in West Mifflin, but those labs, which are 30 to 40 years old, are used by any student taking science classes, said Brenda S. Trettel, dean of academic affairs at the South Campus.

The model for those labs, as well as those at Boyce, will be labs at the $20 million K. Leroy Irvis Science Center that CCAC opened in the spring on its Allegheny Campus in the North Side, Trettel said.

Tory N. Parrish is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach her at 412-380-5662 or

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