Jaspers Helping Build Higgins Engineering and Science Center

A variety of students and alumni are putting their knowledge to work on South Campus.

Matt McMorrow '19 at construction site at Higgins CenterPrior to the groundbreaking of the Higgins Engineering and Science Center in April 2018, the College’s STEM steering committee imagined Manhattan College students involved in the building of the Higgins Center from day one.

Six months later, two students and dozens of alumni have already contributed to the architecture, construction, design, engineering and project management on the Higgins Center site.  

Slated for completion in fall 2020, the Higgins Center will be strategically located across from the Research and Learning Center, and connected to a refreshed Leo Hall. Together, the structures will feature 140,000 square feet of academic space for engineering and the sciences, anchoring Manhattan College’s South Campus.

Hands On Experience

In the spring of 2018, Matt McMorrow ’19, a civil engineering major from Pearl River, N.Y., began working with Pavarini Northeast Construction Company, part of the StructureTone family, on plans for the Higgins Center. Once Pavarini’s team broke ground on the project, McMorrow was working alongside the architects and subcontractors on site, poring over blueprints and details to ensure that the project was on track from day one.

“It means a lot to learn something here in my four years that I actually see right next door from where I learned it,” McMorrow said. “It’s hands on, right on the spot. Everything we see on site – from the geotechnical side, the design of the steel going up – has really matched what we see in class.”

During the summer of 2018, McMorrow worked five days a week on the project as an intern with Pavarini. This fall, McMorrow spends six hours each Wednesday on the corner of 238th Street and Corlear Avenue in a trailer steps away from the main construction site. Not only does McMorrow help ensure the on-site staff is on the same page as the design team, he also was able to monitor the geotechnical phase of the construction, seeing the soil, foundations and workers driving the piles, similar to what he’s learning from Anirban De, Ph.D. in his geotechnical foundations class.

“We’re working with not just the the design, but also the carpet, the windows, the door handles – every little detail,” McMorrow explained. “We have to make sure we’re meeting what the architect wants.”

Students and Alumni Build for the Future

Rendering of Higgins CenterGenna Lederer ’19, a civil engineering major from Blauvelt, N.Y., also worked on the Higgins Center project during the summer of 2018. Like McMorrow, she helped oversee the details of the project, including the concrete and HVAC systems going into place.

Being on site and assessing the seemingly small details that go into a project from the start was eye-opening for Lederer.

“Being in the field you definitely learn more than sitting in an office,” Lederer said. “It felt like I was making history, working on this project. I am helping build a building here, and leaving my mark.”

Manhattan College alumni are also leaving their mark on this project, including Cathy Dixon ’83, managing director at VVA Project Managers and Consultants, along with Paul Evans ’09, ’11 (M.S.), senior engineer at Silman Structural Engineers, and Adrianna Bosco ’11, Jarrod Holmberg ’12, 14 (M.S.) and Dustin Kapson ’16 (M.S.), at AKRF, Inc., a leading environmental, planning and engineering consulting firm.

"It’s truly been an honor for us [at AKRF] to apply the skills and knowledge gained in this very building to help improve it for future generations,” Kapson said to a group of students in Leo Hall in November.

Dixon’s team of project managers has helped bring a number of Jasper alumni into the large group needed to help create the Higgins Center. The list includes alumni who work at Mitchell Giurgola Architects, Silman Structural Engineers, JBB MEP Engineering, AKRF, Pavarini, and within Manhattan College, working to create a state-of-the art building housing laboratories and collaborative space for students and faculty across a variety of academic programs.

When the calendar turns to 2019, the core construction will get underway at the Higgins Center. The exterior will begin to take shape, and students will continue to have the opportunity to collaborate and learn, steps away from their classrooms, as the project progresses to its opening date in the fall of 2020.