EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Haverhill

April 2, 2013

$1.2 MILLION brings modern science labs to students

State money helps NECC prepare them for job market

HAVERHILL — Northern Essex Community College has been on a 10-year path to renovating aging science labs on its Haverhill and Lawrence campuses.

But yesterday, students discovered they will be able to train in high-tech labs much sooner, after a state agency gave NECC $1.2 million to make improvements.

That lopped seven years off the improvement plan and put the college on the fast track toward equipping its aging labs with the latest available technologies.

Yesterday, the college announced it received the grant from the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center. The grant will enable NECC to renovate five labs on the Haverhill campus this year, including a physics lab dating back to 1971. The money will also pay to create a new lab on the Lawrence campus and renovate two labs there as well.

In announcing the grant, NECC President Lane Glenn said according to a recent report from industry experts, the state’s investments in life sciences technology is giving NECC students a better chance at finding jobs than in the past.

Glenn told a crowd inside the Hartleb Technology Center on the college’s Haverhill campus that in 2008, the state agency was charged with administering a 10-year, $1-billion plan to promote life sciences in Massachusetts.

“I want to mention that this grant required a private matching grant and we were very fortunate to receive a $200,000 donation from the Technical Training Foundation to support this initiative,” Glenn said, noting that the foundation was created by Dr. Ibrahim El-Hefni, a longtime resident of North Andover and a successful business owner.

Glenn said El-Hefni created the foundation before his death, and that it is being carried on by his widow, Wensley El-Hefni, and his daughter Suzanne Wright.

Dr. Noemi Custodia-Lora, NECC’s assistant dean of foundational studies and liberal arts and sciences who helped write the grant, said the lab renovations will help the college better prepare students to join the workforce or transfer to a four-year school.

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