Middlesex College’s Department of Facilities Engineering will be working on capital construction projects on campus grounds in Edison during the spring semester as scheduled to maintain the safety and security of infrastructure through regulatory procedures.
The executive director of the Division of Facilities Management, Donald Drost, said, “What they [Department of Facilities Engineering] do is they manage our capital projects, so all construction, new buildings, renovations to existing buildings and then what we call capital renewal and replacement projects. Those are projects where equipment in our building systems are coming to the end of their useful life and need to be replaced.”
The renovations include all campus infrastructure like pavement, utilities, landscaping, building repairments and high-performance computing (HPC) systems, which are organized in two planning documents, he said.
“One is the college master plan. It was last completed in 2012, and generally it’s got a life of about 10 years, and we're just getting ready to start the next one. We'll be working on that in the spring,” said Drost. “The second document is called the Facility Condition Audit, the last one was done in 2016 … We have a firm that comes in and goes through every space in every building and determines the condition of the equipment, building, space or infrastructure and they come up with a series of projects to maintain that.”
The director of the department of facilities engineering, Randolph Larate, said, “The projects come from priorities that are generated, and it depends on the amount of funding that's available and what the priority is.”
Drost said that life safety issues pose a higher priority.
“As far as projects, we are currently working on fire alarms and replacements … both [in] Edison Hall and our physical education center. Those systems are at the end of their life,” said Drost.
Environmental priority, equipment lifespan, parking and regulatory requirements, and accessibility standards are also prioritized, Larate said.
Drost said, “That's another type of regulation that requires us to do something.”
He said that they are working on replacing the HPC controls, which controls the heat and air condition, and modernizing the system.
“We're [also] doing additional security cameras outdoors in the parking lots,” said Drost.
MC student, Jacob Forbes, said, “While MCC doesn’t give me the vibe that crime or questionable activity is widespread, I do believe having these new security cameras will help us out in case anything arises. It seems like an easy long-term investment.”
Larate said that he is working on a project to renovate the restrooms in the library, which will be completed in the middle of February.
Drost said, “Stephen Lewis, the project manager, he's just getting started on a project to renovate the bathrooms in Main Hall.”
Drost said the student satisfaction survey pushed funding for renovations
“We got feedback from students about the condition of the bathrooms, so we’re working to try to improve those,” said Drost.
MC alumnus, Luke Agojo, said, “The stalls weren't spaced correctly, so the stall door never closed last I remember, and it always smelled like sewage.”
Forbes said, “For the bathrooms in the library and main hall, I like seeing our school's architecture, so I am curious to see how the older bathrooms look.”
The capital projects during the 10-year plan calculated out to around 61 million dollars, Drost said.
Tuition funds are not used for capital projects.
Drost said, “So our capital funding comes from a program called Chapter 12 that's administered by the New Jersey Council of County Colleges. The state allocates funding from revolving funds, so there's 540 million dollars in this fund and each year, as the bonds are paid off from prior years, it frees up new money.”
According to the New Jersey Commission of Higher Education’s website, Chapter 12 funding is divided among 19 other county colleges and 26 campuses.
Larate said, “Civil engineers and the Board of Trustees a few years ago had set up a procedure where we have three qualified consultants in the engineering disciplines of mechanical, electrical and plumbing architects, civil engineers and environmental engineers, we now have, for each category, five prequalified firms that we put together, [and] what we [do is] call [for] a special quote or a request for [a] proposal in the case of the site improvements that [then] goes out to the civil engineers and [we choose people] based on their experience and the cost.”
“This past summer, we didn't have a lot of funds, but there were some issues we wanted to take care of as far as sidewalks, which we thought may have [had] some tripping hazards, and some paving and walkways around Main Hall, which were getting kind of old and nasty looking. We did the specifications in-house for that particular project and went out to bid and to our benefit the contractor who was the lowest bidder happened to be one that's done work on the campus before,” said Larate.
Drost said, “We've never had a student or staff person injured by one of our projects and very, very few, I could probably count them on one hand, of the actual workers for the contractors have [had] an injury on one of our projects, so we have [a] good safety record.”