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Whether your future is in a science lab or in the kitchen, there is a new state-of-the-art training facility opening up at a public college near you.

The latest addition to the 125-acre Buffalo State College campus on the edge of the city’s Elmwood Village is the new School of Natural and Social Sciences. Construction on the first phase of the $100 million project was completed last fall and has been set to open in time for the start of the spring semester.

“This multifaceted facility will enable us to achieve our vision of taking science and math education to the next level at Buffalo State and will pave the way for our students to thrive academically in a top-notch learning environment that integrates lecture, hands-on instructional labs and research,” said Buffalo State President Aaron Podolefsky.

“As we embark on the project’s next phase that will create a distinctive new planetarium, Buffalo State continues to enhance the scope of knowledge, inquiry and discovery that are essential in the science and math fields,” he said.

The new facilities are much needed, as the school’s academic offerings have expanded and its collaborations with other local institutions increased, said Mark Severson, dean of the School of Natural and Social Sciences. Over the last three decades, the college has gone from a venue for attaining undergraduate degrees to one that is recognized as a masters comprehensive institution.

“That means we have both bachelors and masters level degree programs. Faculty have quite a bit of scientific research going on now, so this new building will provide up-to-date research labs for faculty and for the students who work with them,” said Severson.

Meanwhile, Niagara County Community College in Sanborn is embarking on an upgrade of its Culinary Arts Institute which, in September, began operating out a refurbished, 900,000-square-foot section of the former Rainbow Centre Mall in downtown Niagara Falls. The overhaul includes facilities for instruction in baking and pastry arts; culinary arts; hospitality and food service management; restaurant management; casino gaming; tourism management and event planning; and even education in winery operations.

“We have 350 student enrolled in our program,” said NCCC President James P. Klyczek.

“Our students are drawn from all over the state, but mostly from Western New York. We expect that geographic base to broaden as the program becomes more well-known,” he added.

The institute’s state-of-the-art facilities, comprehensive curriculum and reasonable tuition rates are expected to be the school’s main selling points.

“There are a lot of job opportunities in the hospitality and tourism industry. Klyczek added. “We’re placing students everywhere from the Seneca Niagara Casino to working with Delaware North Cos. and Saratoga Springs, as well as developing relationship with local hotels, casinos and racinos,” which Klyczek described as slot machine parlors.

At Buffalo State, the new Science and Math complex aims enhance the current research status of the institution, as well as promote job readiness for its students.

“It’s a real showplace for science,” said Severson, of the multi-story glass and steel complex. “I think we’ll attract students to science as well as provide them with a state-of-the-art facility in which to learn science.”

That includes facilities for ongoing research in aquatic ecology being conducted by faculty at Buffalo State.

“Many of these faculty are connected in one way or another with our Great Lakes Center at Buffalo State. They will have facilities in this new building, as well, in addition to their field station on Lake Erie on the foot of Porter Avenue, where the new Frank Lloyd Wright boathouse is located,” said Severson.

The new building also came with funding to purchase a variety of modern instrumentation that is used in the study of science and for scientific research. “That’s the best part of putting this building up. It will be available to undergrads, as well,” Severson said.

“Students will be able to step into jobs in industry or into medically-related labs, having experience using the same kind of instrumentation,” he added.

For now, those who graduate with degrees in biology, chemistry and the earth sciences departments will occupy the facilities that have been completed the first phase of the construction. The mathematics department will be moved in for the second phase, which is scheduled for completion by 2017.

At NCCC, students have access to the wine store and winery operations at the Freedom Run Winery in Lockport, where they are involved from the planting to the processing the grapes, said Klyczek. The culinary institute emphasizes not only the production and preparation ends of the hospitality and tourism business, but the actual business part of it, as well.

“There is pretty much a business aspect to all these programs, because within that industry are certificate level diplomas that students can pursue here going on to four-year degrees in management from other institutions,” he said.

At Buffalo State, the same attention is being paid to the business aspects in the scientific fields.

“Professional science masters is a relatively new kind of degree which, in addition to getting a masters, also requires students to take courses in business communication and project management,” said Severson.

Students in the school’s science programs are also encouraged to do internships, “so that once they graduate with a masters, they’re really ready to step into a business, and have more than just theoretical knowledge, but also have a practical approach,” he added.

email: hmcneil@buffnews.com