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Sen. Kennedy Urges Funding for STEM

May 26, 2019

LOWELL — State Sen. Ed Kennedy asked fellow senators this week to fund the first step in constructing a new building on the Lowell campus of Middlesex Community College.

During Kennedy’s first address on the senate floor Wednesday, he asked for the inclusion of $100,000 in the state’s budget to study and design a new building for STEM, or science, technology, engineering and math.

“Now, and in the future, STEM is the way to go,” he said. “That’s where the jobs are.”

If the amendment is not cut during the state’s lengthy budgeting process, it would be funded through the state’s fiscal year 2020 budget starting July 1.

Kennedy said the study would take nine months to a year to conduct and consider locations in downtown Lowell for the building, including Lowell District Court on 41 Hurd St. which will be vacant when the new Lowell Justice Center opens as early as this fall.

“When the study is done it might send us in a different direction,” Kennedy said.

Currently nearly 1,200 students are enrolled in STEM programs at Middlesex Community College, according to a press release from Sen. Kennedy’s office.

A 2015 study backed by the Division of Capital Asset Management and Maintenance, indicated the school has less lab space than it needs to support the student population. A new building would also update labs and address accessibility requirements for students with physical disabilities, according to the press release.

It is also expected to boost enrollment numbers by 2,000 additional credit hours bringing in about $500,000 in additional revenue per semester, the release said.

Kennedy said he believes improved facilities will benefit both Lowell High School students who don’t plan to attend a four-year college and people changing careers.

“That would equip them to get a good paying job,” Kennedy said.

When Kennedy was the mayor of Lowell, he led an unsuccessful push to introduce a STEM program at Lowell High School, much like the school’s Latin Lyceum.

Middlesex Community College President James Mabry said the building would support learning environments that reflect industry standards, address accessibility issues and expand the school’s ability to educate students interested in working in the regional STEM industry.

“This proposed study will allow our college to make its first significant expansion in the STEM programs since we first moved into learning spaces in Lowell back in the 1990s,” he said.

Follow Elizabeth Dobbins on Twitter @ElizDobbins

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