The University of Houston-Victoria will host a public ribbon cutting for their new 58,464 square foot, three-story science, technology, engineering and mathematics building Thursday afternoon.
The new STEM building will provide ample space the university previously lacked for programs like computer science, chemistry and biology, said Dmitri Sobolev, associate professor of biology. The new building and programs it will allow UHV to start will also hopefully attract more students and further growth for the four-year university, said Chance Glenn, UHV provost.
The ribbon cutting will be at 2 p.m. Thursday. Speakers at the ribbon cutting include University of Houston System Chancellor Renu Khator, UHV president Bob Glenn, UHV provost Chance Glenn and student government association President Tiarah Figueroa.
Prior to the STEM building’s construction, UHV had two dedicated biology labs, Sobolev said. The new facility has three biology labs, two chemistry labs, a dedicated physics lab and labs for computer science programs.
“I’m not going to mince words: We were struggling,” Sobolev said. “This is a huge deal. This is the best thing to happen to STEM in general in a long time.”
The added space allows for more flexibility when booking labs, Sobolev said. It also allows more students to take lab classes and allows the freedom to host makeup labs, which was difficult with the older facilities.
The STEM building is intended to not only provide space and tools for STEM programs, but also to serve as a magnet that will attract students seeking that education, Glenn said.
“People can study in a state-of-the-art lab, doing cutting-edge work, working with professors to do meaningful things, and walk out of here with a degree that they know they can build a meaningful career with,” he said.
While it was possible for UHV faculty to conduct research in the old facilities, the STEM building provides the space and tools for them to conduct more in-depth research, Sobolev said. The ability to conduct detailed research will hopefully attract students interested in attending a university with robust research programs.
The university is interested in establishing engineering programs that could serve as a pipeline to the petrochemical plants in the Crossroads, and the STEM building provides the space for them to pursue that, Sobolev said.
UHV is the only four-year university in a 100- mile radius that can currently provide STEM education, Glenn said.
“We have a responsibility to provide that kind of educational opportunity for the residents of this region going forward,” he said.
In addition to attracting students, there is hope that the STEM building will invite further growth, not just for the university, but for Victoria as well, Glenn said. When more students come to the school, they bring with them families and businesses, and the university’s job is to provide programs that will attract that growth.