Virginia Western Community College held a groundbreaking ceremony on Tuesday to commemorate the start of construction on the college’s new STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) Facility. President Robert H. Sandel delivered comments related to the important role the new facility will play in the developing the region’s workforce.

“Now more than ever, the Roanoke Region is poised for economic growth in STEM and healthcare-related industries,” Sandel said. “This modern learning environment will give our students the technological tools and hands-on training to become leaders in the workforce and drive continued growth.”

Virginia Western’s new STEM Facility will be larger than 72,000-square feet, making it the largest building on campus, and feature engineering fabrication, mechatronics, computer, organic chemistry and micro biology labs along with new classrooms to promote collaborative and interactive STEM learning. Construction on the $30-million plus project will begin before Fall Semester 2017 and be completed by Spring Semester 2019.

Speakers at the groundbreaking ceremony included: Dr. Sandel; Anita Price, Vice Mayor of Roanoke City; Jim McAden, Chair of the Virginia Western Local Advisory Board; Dr. Charles Steger, Chair of the Virginia Western Educational Foundation Board; and Amy White, Virginia Western Dean of STEM.

“We are committed to preparing the students and citizens of the Roanoke Region to not only live, but to thrive, in this new technological world,” White said. “We want to engage our community and help them to embrace the promise of technology. You have to just look around briefly, or turn on the news momentarily, to realize that our world has many problems. We believe the solutions to these problems lie within our students and this building will be a place where those solutions are inspired and generated.”