While construction plans for the Gordon L. Nelson Health Sciences building has been in progress since Oct. 16, 2020, the facility should be operating and open for the fall 2022 semester at Florida Tech.
According to the Florida Tech Newsroom, construction plans for the health sciences research center were announced Oct. 22, 2019, construction began on Oct. 16, 2020, and the building is now in its final stages.
Brian Leslie, vice president of facilities operations, cited material acquisition issues as the main cause for the delay.
“Supply chain issues are a huge problem. You can't plan for that in a project,” Leslie said. “When all of a sudden you get hit with a pandemic, and then everything you buy is more expensive and [it] takes longer to get, and that's kind of the situation we're in right now.”
However, Leslie reported that the building is in the final stages of completion now, and Facilities Operations is undergoing a punch list to ensure that the electronics are functioning properly, there are no defects, and nothing is wrong or missing.
“We're just waiting for a couple of internal components … that are required before we can get our final certificate of occupancy from the City of Melbourne,” Leslie said.
Wes Sumner, vice president for executive communications, said in an email, “We hope to begin moving equipment into the building later in March and have it fully available to students, faculty and the university community this coming fall when the new academic year begins.”
The total cost of construction for this new facility was $18.3 million, according to Sumner.
The Gordon L. Nelson Health Sciences building was constructed to provide classrooms, laboratories, and lecture halls for biomedical engineering, biomedical sciences, and health sciences programs at Florida Tech, the Florida Tech Newsroom stated.
Andy Knight, head of the Department of Biomedical and Chemical Engineering and Sciences, said that the new building is important for preparing the next generation of biomedical engineers, as “there's expected to be a 5% increase in jobs over the next 10 years in biomedical engineering.”
Knight also explained the new research opportunities this building will provide.
“We’re kind of moving into newer areas of biomedical engineering. So we’re doing tissue engineering, biomechanics, and we’ve got some next generation sequencing,” Knight said.
Last July, Florida Tech acquired a $2 million state grant from the Florida Department of Education.
“That has allowed us to buy state-of-the-art cutting edge equipment and facilities for the building,” Knight explained.
In addition to new research opportunities, Knight stated that the biology and biomedical engineering programs are undergoing curriculum development to accompany the use of the new facilities.
According to Knight, with the new facility, the Department of Biomedical and Chemical Engineering Sciences is looking to hire new professors: two in biology, one in chemistry, one in chemical engineering, and at least one in biomedical engineering.
“The fact that we've got a high tech facility in the city of Melbourne, I think it definitely raises the profile of Florida Tech,” Knight said.