Schaible Science Center chemistry labs undergo $1.4 million renovation

This past summer, the renovation of two chemistry labs in EC’s Schaible Hall were completed. Since 2014, five labs, a prep room, a stock room, and the greenhouse at Schaible Hall all underwent $1.4 million renovations.

After a two year process of demolition and reconstruction, the science department’s labs have been reinvigorated to give it a modern appeal.

“Schaible may look the same on the outside, but we are looking quite modern on the inside,”said Paul Arriola, a biology professor.

The construction was funded by a $1.7 million grant awarded to EC by the State of Illinois, which was from a $4.26 million Illinois grant program geared toward funding capital projects.

According to Arriola, the funding from these grants have made it possible to “renovate a physics lab, two biology labs, a prep-room, two chemistry labs, a stockroom, and update the rooftop greenhouse”.

Each lab has been completely demolished and given brand new cabinetry, lighting, flooring, ventilation, and plumbing. Furthermore, fully updated safety systems have been included so that all labs are now ADA compliant.

According to Finance & Administration Vice President Karen Kissel, the Physics Department had upgraded two labs for freshmen and senior physics along with several other small private labs back in 2014.

In 2015, the Chemistry Department was given a Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR) lab, while the Biology Department was able to build two new labs and a prep room. The following year, two chemistry laboratories and the central chemical storeroom had been renovated.

The newly built Schaible Hall labs have generated positive commentary among students and faculty.

“In comparison to the new labs, the older labs seemed to be outdated and [were] limited in space,” said senior Jacob Matsche. “[The renovations] are definitely a step in the right direction as it will help attract more students interested in the science department.”

Students also feel that the changes in Schaible hall have benefited their learning experience and have further enriched the science department.

“The new labs just emanate an innovative and professional atmosphere allowing students to work in a location similar to real life research settings,” Junior Rahim Shareef said. “[They are] another way to prepare the science students to succeed after graduation.”

Like the students, faculty such as Chemistry Professor Dr. Michelle Applebee are also eager to utilize the brand new space.

“Personally, I’m quite excited to use the new labs,” she said. “It feels like the rooms have gotten larger even though the spaces are in the same footprint.”

According to Applebee, the new design perfectly coincides with a department wide initiative to improve experimental designs, implement “next generation” teaching methods in which subjects are closely investigated through active exploration and hands-on experience, and improve safety, much of which “couldn’t be undertaken in the old labs due to the limitations of the old spaces.”