HCC opens new STEM and Kepler Buildings

(Release: January 23, 2012) - Hagerstown Community College began the new year with the opening of its much-anticipated STEM Building and the renovated Kepler Theater, which includes the addition of the Performing and Visual Arts Education Center.


These new buildings allow HCC students and faculty to learn and teach both math-and-sciences and arts-and-humanities in state-of-the-art facilities unlike anything offered in the region.

As these new buildings opened, year-long renovations began on the Classroom Building and the former Science Building, which were initially built in 1966. The Classroom Building will become a modern teaching facility and continue to serve as a main instructional location on campus. The Science Building will be transformed into the Learning Center and be home to all developmental education and tutoring services, faculty offices, a faculty professional development center, and three classrooms.

These much-needed construction projects come on the heels of nearly a decade of solid enrollment growth. From 2002 to 2011, HCC’s credit enrollments grew by 76%. In FY 2011, HCC served 6,850 students in credit programs and 9,478 in continuing education programs for a total of 15,611 different students.

This year, 700 high school students are part of HCC’s early college program, the ESSENCE program, and about 65 transfer agreements exist between HCC and area universities. HCC provides the first two years for all the bachelor’s degree programs currently being offered at USM – Hagerstown.

Since 2002, the number of credit programs has expanded from 41 to 109, with 58 degree programs, 30 certificate programs, and 21 letters of recognition.

Within the STEM Building are sophisticated new spaces for HCC’s biotechnology, alternative energy technology, and cybersecurity programs. The building’s design has incorporated many sustainable and green technologies for energy efficiency and instructional purposes. HCC is also working with Maryland Solar to set-up instrumentation in the STEM Building that will allow students to monitor the energy produced from the solar farm being built near the prison. 

The Kepler Theater and Performing and Visual Arts Education Center contain a black box theater, practice rooms, dance studio, classrooms, expanded dressing rooms, costume shop, extended wardrobe storage, faculty offices, and a completely refurbished theater. HCC is expanding its offerings in these areas and now provides a natural place of transition for students coming from the Barbara Ingram School for the Arts.