Suffolk County Community College is proposing a new 25,000-square-foot state-of-the-art Renewable Energy and STEM Center on its Brentwood campus, an aggressive initiative that makes the school a leader among higher institutions working to bolster Long Island’s science, technology, engineering and mathematics-based workforce.
Last week, the college’s President, Shaun McKay, invited more than 40 business leaders and elected officials to the college’s Brentwood campus to show off the existing Workforce Development Technology Center, a facility housing the tools and equipment needed to train students in manufacturing, welding and HVAC-related careers.
To date, more than 500 students have been trained in the center, funded through several grants, and numerous companies have already begun using it as a breeding ground for new talent. “What typically happens is that students are approached by employers for jobs while they’re still in the program,” McKay said.
But more than showcasing the existing workforce training center, McKay took the opportunity to unveil a proposal for a Renewable Energy and STEM Center, to be built adjacent to it, which will allow students to work hands-on with and develop renewable energy systems.
The proposed 25,000-square-foot center would allow Long Island’s brightest and best to apply their knowledge of science, technology, engineering and math towards renewable energy solutions.
Students would learn to install, diagnose and repair solar panels for commercial and consumer applications. A wind turbine would provide electricity for the building and serve as a learning lab for wind power and turbine technology.
In addition, the proposed facility would feature an outdoor ground-floor solar lab that would produce photovoltaic electricity and heat generation that would exceed the energy needs of the STEM center, making it a net-zero energy building.
The facility would also include a mobile “Smart House” that would slide in and out on rails allowing students to explore how a home reacts to proper weatherization technologies in real-world circumstances and to test and implement new and developing technologies.
Additionally, the second floor of the facility would present students with the unique opportunity of combining Suffolk’s testing and training with research from Stony Brook University to develop next-generation products that would support a wide-range of industries, including healthcare, energy and transportation.
The new center would bolster Long Island’s science, technology, engineering and mathematics-based workforce by opening up opportunities for Suffolk’s students to benefit from internships with Long Island businesses.
Since discussions about the building, estimated to cost more than $10 million before any specialized lab equipment is included, are still ongoing, McKay couldn’t comment on when it might be completed.