A new home for the Summit Technology Academy and the University of Central Missouri Lee’s Summit campus is ready to open its doors.
The Missouri Innovation Campus at 1101 Innovation Parkway, needs only landscaping and finishing touches to be complete. It will be ready when school starts this month.
Use of the space currently is about 60 percent for UCM and 40 percent for Summit Technology Academy.
About 550 high school students from 14 school districts are expected to attend classes at the facility, along with about 3,000 university students.
In a joint program between Summit Technology Academy, Metropolitan Community College, and the University Central Missouri, the high school students enroll in dual-credit classes. It enables them to earn a bachelor’s degree in as little as two years, cutting back on student debt. Students in the program participate in paid internships to develop work-ready skills.
The building’s gleaming aluminum sheathing and industrial-style finish inside reflect its purpose of preparing high school students and adults for technological careers such as computer science, engineering or healthcare.
Over the summer, the project fell behind schedule as a subcontractor was preparing to install woodwork in the entryway hall, said Kyle Gorrell, director of facilities.
That company had decided to mill rough boards of ash on site to create tongue and groove planks. With that came billowing dust and other work was halted.
Gorrell said aside from that problem, “Quality-wise, they did a beautiful job.” In the final month, contractors resorted to working on weekends and putting in overtime to catch up.
This week, teachers for Summit Technology Academy, part of the Lee’s Summit School District, began moving into the facility, getting ready for Thursday’s back to school night.
“It’s all-hands-on-deck. Everyone will pitch in and unload boxes,” said Elaine Metcalf, the academy’s director.
The 136,000-square-foot campus was built by McCownGordon Construction and designed by Gould Evans, with construction management by DLR Group.
Architects held focus groups with students, faculty and the program’s business partners, and decided on an open concept for the building.
Classrooms and the conference center have moveable panels, so the spaces can be combined or separated as needed.
“This was designed to be really flexible,” Gorrell said. “The walls can open for the most efficient use of space.”
Desks, tables and other furnishings were likewise selected to enable multiple arrangements.
“Everything is on wheels,” Metcalf said. “That was purposefully done so you can mix it up, while you’re working in groups on a project.”
Small conference rooms allow for collaboration or one-on-one private meetings with instructors.
In a learning commons, the furnishings include tall desks with high stools, giving students a choice of standing or sitting while working. Similar counters are scattered throughout the building.
The new facility increases the number of simulation labs for nursing students, which replicate hospital rooms. These include one birthing room. It will give the high school students a “jump start” for getting into nursing schools, where admittance is very competitive, Metcalf said. There’s also a biomedical lab for research.
One uncommon feature is a “Virtualization Cloud” a bank of computer servers with mock wiring for students to learn and practice computer networking. They’ll be able to work on site or remotely, Metcalf said.
She said they’d researched where else that $100,000 set of equipment was being used in teaching at a high school, and could only find it in Silicon Valley. The Department of Secondary and Elementary Education provided Lee’s Summit with a grant to buy that technology, she said.
The building also has an improved “green room” to include computer-generated images and a new broadcast room for other productions.
It includes a bookstore for University Central Missouri, vending machines and coffee stations with sinks and microwaves for warming food, but no cafeteria. Students in the program at Summit Technology Academy attend only half days.
The building’s design “stacks” related departments, so they are easy for students to access. For example, engineering is on the first floor; computer science is just up the stairs on the second floor.
Judy Hedrick, associate superintendent for business and operations for the district, said even with the delays and change orders, which are a normal part of construction, the project is being completed at a cost between $35 million and $37 million, while its budget was $40 million.
“We’re in good shape there,” Hedrick said.
Missouri Innovation Campus schedules grand opening
The new Missouri Innovation Campus will have a public grand opening 4 p.m. Sept. 5, at 1101 N.W. Innovation Parkway, Lee’s Summit. The celebration will include a brief program, ribbon cutting, tours and refreshments.
The new facility includes the Missouri Innovation Campus program, a nationally recognized program by University of Central Missouri and Summit Technology Academy for students preparing for careers in areas such as engineering, computer science, health care and creative sciences. It also is UCM’s Lee’s Summit campus offering graduate- and undergraduate-level completion programs.