SUNY Broome held a groundbreaking for the Paul & Mary Calice and Mildred Barton Advanced Manufacturing Center on Sept. 21.

SUNY Broome held a groundbreaking for the Paul & Mary Calice and Mildred Barton Advanced Manufacturing Center on Sept. 21.

The Paul & Mary Calice and Mildred Barton Advanced Manufacturing Center isn’t just Mechanical Building 2.0.

Scheduled for completion in the summer of 2018, the $12.5 million project is nothing less than a total transformation of one of the oldest buildings on campus. Green energy, food science, advanced manufacturing and more – it’s all there, courtesy of partnerships with an array of stakeholders.

Generations of SUNY Broome students attended classes in Mechanical Building, en route to future careers as engineers, technicians and more, SUNY Broome President Kevin E. Drumm noted. Built in 1956, the building was sorely in need of an update. In fact, right up until renovation work began over the summer of 2017, alumni could visit the very lockers they used when attending class decades ago.

“While that’s great for nostalgia, it also demonstrates how badly renovations were needed,” Dr. Drumm reflected. “By their very nature, STEM fields train students for the technology and the careers of the future – and they need the classrooms and the lab space of the future to go with it.”

This project will achieve that goal. State-of-the-art classroom and laboratory space will include a high-tech soddering lab funded by Empire State Development, and an advanced manufacturing lab with its own computer control room and $900,000 worth of new equipment. There will be renovated drafting, surveying, soil mechanics, thermodynamics and fluid mechanics laboratories, as well as materials and metrology and welding labs and a clean room funded by SUNY 2020 with its own gowning room and air lock.

New fermentation and food processing laboratories will tap into the region’s robust food manufacturing industry. The Southern Tier is a major food hub for the entire state and food manufacturing is one of the region’s most significant industries, according to the state Department of Labor.

The food industry also supports a large number of jobs regionally and is a critical part of the region’s economic engine, noted Assemblyman Clifford Crouch, who attended the Sept. 21 groundbreaking ceremony and expressed his support of the project.

“This isn’t just a great idea; this is needed,” said Assemblywoman Donna Lupardo, who noted that the project represented a “great connecting of the dots” linking technology, education and the region’s economic development initiatives.

Go green 

President Kevin Drumm speaks at the groundbreaking for the new Calice Center.

President Kevin Drumm speaks at the groundbreaking for the new Calice Center.

The project will do more than update classroom and lab space. The renovation preserves the connector between the Mechanical and Business buildings, but it will be completely redone – and the center of a new, airy atrium that will serve as a prime student gathering space. Outside the building, pavers will create a plaza-type atmosphere with benches and planters. An additional entrance will be added to the side of the building facing the Natural Sciences Center, and the area outside this entrance will also be redone.

Even the building’s heating and air-conditioning system will be high-tech, thanks to funding from the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA). A green-energy geothermal system will heat and cool the building, and solar collectors will boost power – reducing the college’s carbon footprint. Once on line, this new system will save an estimated $200,000 to $300,000 annually in energy costs, and avoid sending 135 metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions into the atmosphere each year. There’s an educational component, too: NYSERDA is also funding the creation of a sustainability sandbox, a learning laboratory for students who are also training for careers in green energy.

The only downside: The college’s popular Quad will remain inaccessible until next year as the 36 geothermal wells are installed and connected to the geothermal system. Don’t worry, though; the grassy green will be back to its usual state after completion, Dr. Drumm noted.

Funding sources for the $12.5 million project include $2.8 million from SUNY 2020 funding, which includes the clean room; $1 million from NYSERDA for the geothermal system and the sustainability sandbox program; $750,000 from Broome County; $4.15 million from SUNY Capital funds and $500,000 from Empire State Development.

The Broome Community College Foundation is contributing $3.4 million to the project. This funding was made due to the historic $11 million estate gift in 2014 from the late Emil Calice. (You’ll read more about him below.)

The architect behind the project is Passero Associates of Rochester, while McFarland Johnson of Binghamton is the engineer and LeChase Construction Services of Binghamton the construction management firm. Streeter Associates Inc. of Elmira is the general contractor, while Postler & Jaeckle of Endicott is the HVAC contractor, Petcosky & Sons Plumbing & Heating of Vestal is the plumbing contractor and Nelcorp Electrical Contracting of Endwell the electrical contractor.

Executive Vice President Francis Battisti speaks at the Sept. 21 groundbreaking of the new Calice center

Executive Vice President Francis Battisti speaks at the Sept. 21 groundbreaking of the new Calice center

Tech roots

The Mechanical Building has long been the home of SUNY Broome’s Engineering Tech programs, among the first to begin when the college was established in 1946, noted Executive Vice President and Chief Academic Officer Francis Battisti. The programs are deeply entwined with the college’s history and mission, from early nicknames – State Tech and then Broome Tech – to the original mascot (the Technicat) and the first student newspaper, Tech Talk.

The focus on technology makes sense when you consider the times: just after the end of World War II, when young people headed to college in great numbers, thanks to the G.I. Bill, and the heyday of Big Blue and the industrial era.

Technology is just as critical today, although vastly changed. Manufacturing relies heavily on computers and computer programming, and the smartphone in your hand can do far more in less time than the massive mainframes that once filled the Business Building basement, Dr. Battisti reflected.

Graduates with STEM degrees remain in high demand, including locally.

“There are actually more companies in the region looking for people with technical degrees than students in our programs. These are programs that lead to real jobs, often just after graduation,” Dr. Battisti said. The new Calice Center will make the college’s STEM programs more competitive and rewarding for students, he added.

Officials use the ceremonial shovels at the Sept. 21 groundbreaking for the Calice center.

Officials use the ceremonial shovels at the Sept. 21 groundbreaking for the Calice center.

About the new name

For all its benefits, the project has left some in the campus community wondering: Why the name change? And who are Paul, Mary and Mildred?

Emil Calice, who served during World War II with his brothers, spent his career with IBM. He never attended SUNY Broome himself, although several of his and Barton’s relatives went on to graduate from the college.

The career IBMer’s decision to make a massive estate gift – totaling more than $11 million – to the Broome Community College Foundation came as an utter surprise. Not only the largest philanthropic gift in the college’s history, the donation was the largest ever presented by an individual to a SUNY community college, noted Ken Kidder, president of the BCC Foundation’s Board of Directors.

Emil Calice and Mildred Barton

Emil Calice and Mildred Barton

The gift has been truly transformational. Every year, the Foundation awards Calice Scholarships to 80 students, allowing them to pursue their educational dreams – a goal close to the heart of Mr. Calice, who had attended classes in several colleges from the time of his military service. In addition to scholarships, his gift also included the possibility of funding a building – provided that the building was named after Paul and Mary Calice, and Mildred Barton.

Paul and Mary Calice were Emil’s parents, Italian immigrants whose story mirrors that of so many Americans: hard-working, family-oriented and self-sacrificing. They started their American lives in Michigan, where Emil was born. Fearing that her sons would end up working in the mines, Mary Calice raised what money she could by doing laundry and taking in boarders, and the family eventually saved enough money to remake their lives in Binghamton. The Calices ran a corner store on Susquehanna Street and raised their family. Five of their sons served in World War II, including Emil, who lost his brother James in the war.

Emil Calice started at IBM before the war, and people from the company kept in touch with him during his 2 ½ years in the service. One of them was Millie Barton, who worked at IBM during those years to further the war effort. Millie, who was Emil’s companion in her later years, was a passionate naturalist and gardener, as well as a philanthropist who donated to many charities. The Binghamton Zoo at Ross Park was particularly close to her heart.

“Paul and Mary Calice and Mildred Barton helped make Emil Calice the man he was, and so it’s fitting that he chose to keep their names alive forever through his gift,” Kidder reflected. “They exemplify the virtues of hard work and generosity, much as Mr. Calice did himself. Their story is also the story of the Binghamton area, and we’re a part of that story now, too.”