STEM Hub opens on main campus with computers & free tutoring

Lee College cuts the ribbon on new STEM Hub
Lee College students, faculty, administrators and regents prepare to cut the ribbon at the new STEM Hub during a grand opening celebration held Monday, Sept. 18, 2017, at Moler Hall in the heart of campus. The hub is funded through a multimillion-dollar Hispanic-Serving Institutions STEM grant from the U.S. Department of Education. It offers all students access to computers with instructional and professional software, as well as free printing and free tutoring in biology, chemistry, engineering, human anatomy and physiology, all levels of math, physics and process technology.

BAYTOWN, TX — Lee College students tackling science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) assignments have a new place on campus to access computers loaded with instructional and professional software, and receive free tutoring for everything from algebra to anatomy.

The college and community celebrated this week the grand opening of the STEM Hub, an expanded facility in the heart of campus that provides space for students to focus on what many consider their most challenging subjects.

The hub includes both PCs and Macs equipped with programs students use in their classrooms and labs, like AutoCAD, MatLab, Visual Studio and the Microsoft Suite. There is also ample room for tutors to work with students individually and in groups on biology, chemistry, engineering, human anatomy and physiology, all levels of math, physics and process technology, as well as free printing for up to 10 pages of material through the fall semester to help those impacted by Hurricane Harvey.

“We wanted students to have a space where STEM can be more engaging and more fun, where they can see math and science in a different light,” said Victoria Marron, executive director of HSI Initiatives. “There is no reason for a student to say they can’t be successful because they don’t have something. We will provide the resources they need.”

STEM Hub interior
STEM Hub interior

Funding for the STEM Hub came from a multimillion-dollar grant awarded to the college by the Hispanic-Serving Institutions (HSI) division of the U.S. Department of Education to increase awareness, enrollment and completion of STEM degrees for Hispanic and other underserved student populations. The college was selected to receive HSI STEM grants in both 2011 and 2016, and used grant funds to establish the first STEM Center on campus in 2013. Student feedback from the original STEM Center helped administrators plan the additions and improvements at the new hub.

“It’s a dream to have the hub located in the center of campus, accessible to all students at any time,” said Executive Vice Pres. Dr. Christina Ponce. “Our team designed a first-class space and hired the best tutors to support students in getting into STEM degrees and completing STEM degrees.”

Karen Chavez, a former Lee College student now pursuing a degree in surgical technology, knows firsthand how overwhelming STEM courses can seem. Now a tutor for human anatomy and physiology courses, she tries to keep students focused on what they want to achieve by finishing their degree program.

“I always ask students what they’re going for, because it keeps them interested in STEM when they think about how to apply what they’re learning to what they want to accomplish,” Chavez said. “We didn’t have anything like the STEM Hub when I first started college, and the fact that we have all this available now is amazing.”

Lee College offers more than 100 associate degree and certificate programs, as well as non-credit workforce and community education courses, that prepare its diverse student body for advanced higher education; successful entry into the workforce; and a variety of in-demand careers. With the main campus and McNair Center located in Baytown, Texas, and a satellite education center in nearby South Liberty County, the college serves a geographic area of more than 220,000 residents that includes 15 school systems. To learn more, visit www.lee.edu.

Mitsubishi gives $250K in equipment, software

Lee College received this month a $250,000 suite of digital computer equipment and software from Mitsubishi Electric Corp., which will be used to train students for a range of high-demand, high-wage technical careers.

The donation included state-of-the-art Mitsubishi programmable logic controllers (PLCs), as well as associated software and training for instructors. Company representatives joined Lee College Pres. Dr. Dennis Brown, members of the Board of Regents and other administrators for a ribbon-cutting ceremony Friday, May 2, at the McNair Center to get a firsthand look at the PLCs before students begin working with them.

An essential piece of equipment in many industries, PLCs help automate electromechanical processes — from the control of a vent fan in an oil refinery, to the motion of a conveyor belt on a factory assembly line. Technicians use specialized software to program the systems to produce the desired function.

In thanking Mitsubishi for its generosity, Dr. Brown noted that Lee College is fortunate to have strong connections with many industry partners. Such relationships benefit students by providing enhanced educational resources and greater opportunities for future success, he said.

“What Mitsubishi has done for the college will move us forward in our mission to prepare our graduates for industry,” Dr. Brown said. “Learning these skills will help students secure a career that can last a lifetime.”

Mark Werthman, director of the technical support group for Mitsubishi, said he hoped its donation would further bridge the gap between industry and education. Finding qualified employees is important to both the company itself, and the customers that purchase its products.

“We recognize the commitment at Lee College to the education and re-education of the workforce in this area, and we thank them for recognizing the needs of the industry,” Werthman said. “We are excited to have this opportunity and look forward to helping the college every step of the way.”