William Fisher, the director of cardiovascular technology, stood in the middle of his new classroom inside the new health sciences building at Howard Community College.
He was showing people on a tour the new emergency room-like suite, the training beds, the shiny floor and all the new space he has.
"Before, we were training in a classroom a quarter of the size of this," said Fisher. "This will be a whole new level of training."
Local political and educational leaders gathered with students and residents at the ribbon cutting for Howard Community College's new $50.7 million Health Sciences Building.
"It's a student-centered building," said Georgene Butler, president of health sciences at HCC, "and we're well-poised for continued growth."
"As a longtime Howard County resident and former HCC student, I am amazed by this tremendous transformation," said Howard County Council chair Jen Terrasa, who spoke about changes at the college's campus.
The building, which will officially begin educating the 2,116 students taking Health Sciences at HCC later this month, was paid for with $24.2 million in state funds and $26.5 million in Howard County funds.
"As the demand for health services increases, this innovative facility will provide cutting-edge training and address the needs of the community that we serve," said Dr. Kate Hetherington, president of HCC, in a statement. "Thanks to the support of the state and Howard County for this critical project, health science students will be able to access the college for critical job preparation. This building is about workforce training for our students."
The building includes 14 labs, nine instructional classrooms, a large lecture hall, simulation rooms, offices for full-time professors, student study spaces, an instrument sterilization room and even a full-size ambulance simulator built into a classroom.
"It has everything an ambulance has, except it doesn't move," said Angel Burba, the director of the paramedic program at HCC.
The new 113,000 square foot building will allow the health sciences division to offer four new programs—dental hygienist, medical laboratory technician, medical diagnostic sonography and physical therapist assistant—as well as expand current programs in nursing, cardiovascular technology, emergency medical services, exercise science, life fitness, health care, nutrition, public health and radiological technology.
Construction on the building began on Jan. 24, 2011. In November, HCC commemorated the new building by entombing a time capsule in the main lobby.