MSU Billings science building expected to undergo maintenance

MSU Billings science building expected to undergo maintenance

The Montana State University Billings science building is one of the oldest on campus, and the infrastructure and assets of the facility could soon succumb to costly damage if the school doesn't spend on campus maintenance now, the Billings Gazette reports.

According to the news source, one organic chemistry classroom and lab still has tables that were used by students in 1947 – just one of the many aged parts of the two-story building. Pipes, which run through classrooms and are exposed overhead, have paint falling from them, and some laboratories in the building have electrical cords running up to the ceiling because the tables lack outlets.

The school's greenhouse may have the worst wear and tear, with its fiberglass roof falling apart and plants dying because of a falter water distribution system.

Many at the school say all this is more than enough reason to bring a proposal back to Montana Legislature that would allow for the renovation of the building. Governor Brian Schweitzer said the MSU Billings laboratories are next in line on a list of priorities in the state's budget, however Governor Elect Steve Bullock's vision could alter this plan, the news source stated.

In 2010, the legislature groups the MSU project in with several others in a bonding bill, which passed the house, was amended in the Senate, but failed to make it through the House a second time. Now, lawmakers are trying again to get the facility the maintenance funding the school says it needs.

The entire project would cost a shade under $15 million, and would completely overhaul the current 49,000-square-foot building, and also construct a 30,000-square-foot add-on.

Right now, the building only has two fume hoods to rid laboratories of toxic vapors. Experts agree that a lab with 20 students should have at least four hoods. Any maintenance that takes place will need to ensure that the lab complies with standards set by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

MSU Billings Chancellor Rolf Groseth said that when the school was built just after World War II, enrolment barely hit 50. Now, about 5,000 students troll the campus, many of whom are in the building in pursuit of science-based careers, according to the Gazette.

Groseth added that a state-of-the-art science facility is more important now than ever, considering the grave need to train students in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) subjects. Currently, the U.S. is rapidly falling among the global rankings of STEM graduation rates, and many fear innovation in the U.S. could fall if more attention isn't paid to STEM subjects. 

To learn more about eRPortal, visit

Both comments and pings are currently closed.

Comments are closed.

Subscribe to RSS Feed