Newly Renovated STEM Center Hits the Sweet Study Spot

Student studies in the STEM Center

October 06, 2022 - 03:52 PM

Student studies human headOn the third floor of building 61, you will find one of the most unique study spaces on the Mt. SAC campus. The STEM Center has a cool design and a wealth of resources available to help students in STEM (Science Technology Engineering & Math) courses.

Any student interested in checking it out is encouraged to drop by for the Grand Opening on Oct. 12 at 4 p.m. (a private event will leave the space closed prior to that). The Center is open now for use by students from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday – Thursday and 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on Fridays. The Center closes on weekends.  

Keana Depadua studies“I used to study a lot in the Library, but with my classes here (in the science buildings), it’s just more convenient to study here,” said Computer Science major Keana Depadua.

“We have been here as a study space since 2015,“ James Reed, Project Program Coordinator of STEM, explained. “But, this Fall, we opened after an extensive renovation.”

Student studies human skeletonThe renovation, besides being an aesthetic overhaul, included an expansion of space, as well as numerous resources added to the Center. In addition to laptops for in-Center use, there is an entire room filled with a wide variety of resources for students to use in various fields of study: Anatomy models, physiology slides, and rocks from geology, to name a few. Students particularly like the fact that charging stations are available at every seat in the Center.  

Students study amidst human skeletonsDepadua said she particularly likes to use, ”the Whiteboards and glass panels to work out my math problems on.” She also likes to bring friends and uses the break area to warm up food. “You don’t have to be as quiet as you do in the library. It’s very chill and laid back here,” she said.

“It provides quite a nice space for studying with like-minded people working on broadly similar things,” said Mathematics student Shao-wen Larios. Math has a dedicated study space on the first floor of the same building, but Larios prefers the STEM Center because he wants to transfer to an Engineering program upon graduating.

James Reed“You do not need to be a STEM major to use the center,” said Reed. “We have many students just taking one science course for their general education, who come here for help in that class. Any Mt. SAC student is welcome, but our resources are geared toward the Natural Science courses.”

In fact, the section of the Center near the huge screen TV (that was playing NASA live feeds both times we were there) can be reserved by any club on campus for Fridays. The Center is planning on getting the equipment to do Students study near big screen TVZooms on the screen, as well, which will allow speakers and guests from remote locations to interact with students.

Three different counselors, all adjunct professors, have office hours right in the center offering guidance. Oftentimes, you might find science professors on hand to answer questions about their subject matter and even to hold their office hours in the Center.

Professor Santacruz counsels student“We help the whole student, including guidance and counseling,” said Reed. “We help the science students just like the Arise or Aspire programs help their students.”

“The STEM counselors are able to provide more specific information in regard to what classes to take for transferring as a STEM student,” said Larios.

Professor Phelps talks with studentThe center also provided peer-to-peer coaching. So, a student that has already successfully completed a class will coach a student new to the subject matter, clarifying scientific concepts and helping them to be a better student.


Shao-wen Larios (left) studies with a friend.

That is exactly what Larios does as a peer coach. “It is really satisfying to give back to my fellow students,” he said. “To have them comprehend something they had trouble with is very gratifying.”  

“You may come here just to find some like-minded learners,” said Reed “The social aspect of the Center is very important. There is social support being in the space.”

Students study

Larios agrees and says he and a “small number of excessive users” of the space have become close, and often use the Center right up until it closes each night.

Reed said to look for an expanse of what the STEM Center currently offers, including field trips and guest speakers. The program is putting on the Women of Color in STEM event on October 19 from 3 pm to 5 pm at the Bldg. 9C stage.  Students can find those and other events on the STEM Center Instagram page, as well as the soon-to-be revamped website, where students can make counseling appointments.

Students study heart model“WE have a STEM advisory committee who are constantly brainstorming what else we can do to support students in the various science programs,” Reed said.