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Holyoke schools to benefit from grants

March 8, 2013
By G. Michael Dobbs


HOLYOKE — For the speakers at the announcement of $9 million in grant money to five Holyoke recipients, the funding meant different things.

For Gov. Deval Patrick, the grants made to two Holyoke high schools as well as Holyoke Community College (HCC) and the Massachusetts Green High Performance Computing Center on Feb. 28 is a responsibility to future generations.

Mayor Alex Morse noted the grants show the continuing partnership between the state and the city of Holyoke. He said the state has supported projects as diverse as the construction of the passenger train platform to the renovations of Veterans' Park.

For Dr. Susan Windham-Bannister, the president and CEO of the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center (MLSC), the grants given through her organization "will ensure all young people can compete successfully for jobs in the 21st Century innovation economy."

She added her organization "use capital funding to create unique resources and capacity."

According to information released by Morse's office, "Holyoke High School received $100,000 that will be used to replace outdated lab equipment, outfit a marine biology class, provide science classes with iPads for students to share, with the goal of expanding educational pathways in the sciences, technology, and engineering."

William J. Dean Technical Vocational High School also received $100,000 that will be used to "fund in-school and after-school robotics labs and related technology, in support of the Career Pathways in Technology project, a collaborative of Holyoke Community College, Dean Technical High School, the Collaborative for Educational Services, and the Massachusetts Green High Performance Computing Center (MGHPCC)."

The funding to Dean will support an "enhanced focus on STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) during the school day in science and in technical shops, as well as the opportunity to have a robotics club as part of the new afterschool and summer enrichment activities."

HCC received $3.8 million — a sum that HCC President William Messner called the largest grant in the college's history — "to create a Center for Life Sciences, which will allow it to update HCC's biotechnology transfer degree option, create an associate degree career track option including clean room technology, strengthen articulations with four-year institutions (including a pipeline to Mount Holyoke and Smith Colleges that will increase the number of women in STEM related fields) and expand partnerships with William J. Dean Technical Vocational High School, Holyoke High School and other area high schools."

Windham-Bannister explained the clean room at HCC will be the first such facility in Western Massachusetts to be used for training purposes.

Finally, the Massachusetts Green High Performance Computing Center (MHGPCC) was awarded $4.5 million "over three years to equip the facility with a computer system that will enable new computing techniques and new discoveries in the life sciences."

Two other colleges also received money from the grant. Springfield Technical Community College (STCC) was awarded $150,000, which will be used to update its equipment and labs to align with the needs of life sciences companies by funding a study to determine what equipment it needs for life science education.

Bay Path College in Longmeadow recently received a $2 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education aimed at improving undergraduate student retention, supporting curricular redesign, faculty professional development, and student academic and career support services. The college also received a MLSC planning grant of $50,000, which will help the college to broaden it science program.

"Schools like Holyoke Community College and Springfield Technical Community College play major roles in training the next generation of our state's life sciences workforce, and they ensure that training for innovation economy jobs is inclusive and available all across the state. Our grants help ensure that these schools can provide students in Western Massachusetts with first-rate training facilities," Windham-Bannister said.

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