Troy Moon, Pensacola State College
The giant ceremonial scissors are sharp and ready. More importantly, the new Baars Technology Building is looking sharp and ready for an April 9 ribbon cutting ceremony that will signal a new chapter in Pensacola State College’s 73-year history.
The $15 million, 23,839-square-foot two-story building will be home to PSC’s STEM program courses, including cybersecurity, mathematics, computer science and other high-tech fields of study and features state-of-the-art technology.
Kirk Bradley, dean of Baccalaureate Studies and Academic Support said some math and cybersecurity classes should be able to move to the new building during the current spring term following the ribbon cutting.
The building features a cybersecurity center and a cybersecurity warfare room, as well as various classrooms, faculty offices and a tutoring center.
Aesthetic features include an artistic light feature, luxury vinyl tiling, study areas and new furnishings.
“It couldn’t come at a better time because our cybersecurity program is really growing,” Bradley said. “This will allow us to expand our program.”
PSC President Ed Meadows said cybersecurity is the College’s “fastest growing program.” The College offers associate and baccalaureate level degrees in cybersecurity.
“There are over 4,000 cybersecurity job vacancies in Northwest Florida,” Meadows said. “These are good paying jobs. There will be no shortage of opportunities for our graduates.”
Robert Pratten, a PSC cybersecurity instructor and program coordinator, said the new facility will improve the College’s ability to serve its students.
“The building will allow us the ability to expand the program and provide more class offerings per term,” Pratten said. “We are currently stretched to the max in trying to provide classes for all of our students. Now we can offer classes with leading-edge technology in the classroom, keeping pace with industry and technological advances.”
The new Baars Technology Building replaces the Mary Ellison Baars building, which was demolished in January 2019. The building was 60 years old and was the College’s oldest building before demolition. It was named for the matriarch of the well-known Baars family in recognition of her making the original property available to the College. Members of the Baars family will attend the ribbon cutting.
Ajax Building Corp. was the general contract for the project, which was designed by Florida Architects.
The Baars Technology Building is the Phase I east-wing of an ambitious project that will eventually include a Phase II west-wing building that will someday be home to high-tech programs such as advanced manufacturing. Total cost for both wings is $35 million.