MSJC celebrates groundbreaking of new $39M STEM building and opening of Animatronic Makerspace

SAN JACINTO, Calif., — More than 200 people gathered together yesterday to help Mt. San Jacinto College (MSJC) celebrate the groundbreaking of a new nearly $40 million Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) building and debut of its new Animatronic Makerspace at its San Jacinto Campus.


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With MSJC’s San Jacinto campus’ growing biology, physical science and math programs not currently centralized and located in several buildings spread across MSJC’s campuses due to space constraints, the new three-story, approximate 57,000-square-foot STEM building will feature science labs, lecture rooms, general classrooms, math and general studies labs and faculty offices, all in one centralized location.

“Our goal at MSJC is to provide our students with the best possible education to prepare them for their future endeavors,” Todd Franco, Dean of Facilities Planning, District Construction & Support Services at Mt San Jacinto Community College, said after the Tuesday, March 22 event.

“This new centralized hub for our math and science departments will allow our teams to collaborate in a permanent space that will contribute greatly to the STEM education and research at MSJC,” he continued.

More than 200 guests were in attendance at Tuesday’s groundbreaking ceremony at MSJC’s San Jacinto campus and debut of the campus’s new Animatronic Makerspace.

MSJC contracted with Redlands visionary Garner Holt Education Through Imagination (GHETI) to build the Animatronic Makerspace that debuted to students and the public on Tuesday. It’s the first time Holt has built an AniMakerspace at a community college and Holt attended and spoke at the well-attended event.

Wildly popular with people of all ages, computerized animatronics date back to the early 1960s with the famed Imagineers at Disneyland, and over the years Garner Holt Productions has created nearly 500 animatronics for Disney, including the dragon featured in the California theme park’s “Fantasmic” show.

The nearly $850,000 GHETI AniMakerspace features three animatronic figures, 3D printers, programming tables, two laser cutters/engravers, sewing machine, 10-needle embroider, 86-inch monitors, and more.

In conjunction with MSJC design and engineering classes, the new $832,472 GHETI AniMakerspace sits in two classrooms in the campus’s 100 Building and is adjacent to the site of the future STEM building.

It will give students the ability to learn the practices and skills needed to become great problem-solvers, designers, builders and technical operators, and arrives a few years after MSJC’s Eagle MakerSpace, which is housed on the college’s Menifee Valley Campus. That campus’s MakerSpace features 3D printers and a laser cutter that students use throughout the academic year to create various projects.

Both MakerSpaces were funded by the California Strong Workforce Program, a state initiative aimed at developing more workforce opportunity and lifting low-wage workers into living-wage jobs through Career Education.

“Having the first Community College with a GHETI AniMakerspace sparks innovation, broadens skills and brings endless possibilities to MSJC students, and through students it brings those new skills to our workforce,” Murrieta/Wildomar Chamber of Commerce President/CEO Patrick Ellis said after Tuesday’s groundbreaking, adding, “It’s a game changer for our region.”

“These career-enriching developments will allow students to explore their interests as they engage in immersive new learning experiences,” Riverside County Supervisor Jeff Hewitt (C) said after Tuesday’s groundbreaking. “It is truly rewarding to have welcomed these exciting educational projects into Riverside County.”

Tentatively scheduled to open in time for the 2023-2024 academic year, the project is being built in partnership between C.W. Driver Companies and LPA Architects, with MSJC’s voter-approved Measure AA facilities bond funding half of the project and California’s Prop. 51 funding the other half.

“C.W. Driver Companies is proud to continue our partnership with Mt. San Jacinto College to provide their students with a best-in-class campus,” said C.W. Driver Companies Project Executive David Amundson, who leveraged decades of academic construction experience to deliver a centralized and collaborative learning hub.

“It was an honor to be able to leverage our experience in higher education to provide students and faculty with a centralized, permanent facility to further their research and learning,” he continued, adding that he expects the new facility “will shape student education and research for generations to come.”

SEE ALSO: All invited to Vietnam War Veterans Recognition Day Event-in Murrieta – March 26

With campuses in San Jacinto, Menifee, Banning and Temecula, MSJC is part of California’s 116 community college system that trains local residents for jobs and prepares students to earn associate degrees and transfer to four-year universities. The College’s four campuses serve nearly 24,000 students annually in a district covering 1,700 square miles from the San Gorgonio Pass to Temecula.

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LPA Architects photos

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Trevor Montgomery, 51, moved in 2017 to the Intermountain area of Shasta County from Riverside County and operates Riverside County News Source (RCNS) and Shasta County News Source (SCNS). Both are stringer organizations, providing breaking news coverage and community interest stories for other mainstream media organizations throughout the two regions they serve.

Additionally, he writes or has written for several other news organizations; including Riverside County based newspapers Valley News, Valley Chronicle, Anza Valley Outlook, and Hemet & San Jacinto Chronicle; the Bonsall/Fallbrook Village News in San Diego County; and Mountain Echo in Shasta County. He is also a regular contributor to Thin Blue Line TV and Law Enforcement News Network and has had his stories featured on news stations throughout the Southern California and North State regions.

Trevor spent 10 years in the U.S. Army as an Orthopedic Specialist before joining the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department in 1998. He was medically retired after losing his leg, breaking his back, and suffering both spinal cord and brain injuries in an off-duty accident. (Click here to see segment of Discovery Channel documentary of Trevor’s accident.)

During his time with the sheriff’s department, Trevor worked at several different stations; including Robert Presley Detention Center, Southwest Station in Temecula, Hemet/Valle Vista Station, Ben Clark Public Safety Training Center, and Lake Elsinore Station; along with other locations.

Trevor’s assignments included Corrections, Patrol, DUI Enforcement, Boat and Personal Water-Craft based Lake Patrol, Off-Road Vehicle Enforcement, Problem Oriented Policing Team, and Personnel/Background Investigations. He finished his career while working as a Sex Crimes and Child Abuse Investigator and was a court-designated expert in child abuse and child sex-related crimes.

Trevor has been married for more than 31 years and was a foster parent to more than 60 children over 13 years. He is now an adoptive parent and his “fluid family” includes 13 children and 18 grandchildren.