Transcript Staff Writer

Moore Norman Technology Center construction technology and biotechnology students have new places to call home.

A 8,500-square-foot building designed for construction and carpentry study and a 2,800-square-foot expansion that will house the school's newest medical program have opened to students and faculty.

Superintendent John Hunter said both programs are located on the Franklin Road campus. The projects were completed using money from the district's building fund.

Hunter said the board addressed the need for an area specifically for the biotechnology field in spring 2006. In March, construction crews began re-modeling the health education building. The final touches on the wing were made last week.

"We got our occupancy permit this week," he said.

Hunter said construction costs totaled $276,000.

"In addition we bought right at $130,000 in equipment and furniture," Hunter said.

Biotechnology instructor Pam Arrington said the new quarters and equipment will benefit her students.

"They will get to go so much farther and faster," she said.

Arrington said one section is divided into a lab that contains a chemical storage closet. Four students will be assigned to one table that supply weighing scales and electric stirrers.

She explained the area will be accessible for physically handicap students. Twelve students each are enrolled in the morning and afternoon sessions.

"This is phenomenal that we can do this for the kids," Arrington said.

She said biotechnology students will be able to analyze DNA and study its replication process. The program allows hands-on experience for those enrolled in the class.

Hunter said discussion for a construction technology building began in 2003.

Before crews broke ground on the building in summer 2006, officials spent six to nine months configuring the design, Hunter said. Construction cost was about $1.6 million and the school spent $25,000 for equipment.

"Most of the equipment we moved from the existing building to the new facility," Hunter said.

Carpentry instructor Terry Williamson said the facility includes a work area, office, classroom, computer lab and storage area on a second floor.

"This is exactly twice the size of our old classroom," he said.

Williamson teaches furniture making, carpentry, wood turning and wood carving. He said every aspect of instruction has been improved.

"We have 10 times the facility we had," he said.

Hunter said the recently completed projects give MNTC students the best hands-on learning experience in the industry.

"It's just wonderful for students and teachers who will benefit from it," he said.

Hunter said students will be able to complete tasks in both labs as what would be expected at their employment.

"You want to duplicate what they're going to find when they go to work," Hunter said.

MNTC Board Vice President Glen Cosper was impressed after a recent tour of the construction technology building and the biotechnology wing.

Cosper said both fields continue to gain interest from prospective students.

"Construction knowledge is something that we need to continue," he said.

Cosper said 50 percent of the student body holds a college education. He believes it's best to keep ahead with the latest technology and equipment for learning.

"I feel like we're just keeping up ahead of the curve," he said. "Part of our mission is to keep ahead."

Meghan McCormick

366-3539

mmccormick@normantranscript.com

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