Southwestern College Hosts Bipartisan Congressional Visit

Students and Southwestern College Governing Board members join Congresswoman Virginia Foxx (R, North Carolina) and Congresswoman Susan Davis (D, California) in a demonstration of the college’s drone program.
Students and Southwestern College Governing Board members join Congresswoman Virginia Foxx (R, North Carolina) and Congresswoman Susan Davis (D, California) in a demonstration of the college’s drone program.

Rep. Susan Davis (D, California) and Rep. Virginia Foxx (R, North Carolina) visited Southwestern College’s new drone and fermentation programs Saturday as part of the Bipartisan Policy Center’s American Congressional Exchange program.

The American Congressional Exchange program teams representatives from both sides of the aisle and provides them opportunities to build common experiences, therefore building trust and friendship.

The visit to the college’s recently opened Math and Science Building offered Davis the opportunity to highlight Southwestern College’s workforce development programs and served as a reciprocal visit to her visit to Foxx’s North Carolina district.

As members of the House Education and Labor Committee, Davis and Foxx were enthusiastic about touring Southwestern College’s new $85.6 million building, which opened in January.

“For many years, the people of South County have invested in Southwestern College by entrusting their loved ones to us,” said Michael Odu, dean of the School of Math, Science and Engineering. “With this new facility, we are in a better position today to transform the lives of students by meeting them where they are and taking them where they need to be.”

During the hour-long visit, the congresswomen learned more about the educational and workplace opportunities of drone technology. Professor Ken Yanow outlined the free curriculum Southwestern College is offering to prepare students to pass the drone pilot exam. He also talked about the exciting partnership between Southwestern College and local high schools where students build drones and put them through their paces in a competition.

Professor Ken Yanow shows the various drones available for students in the drone program.
Professor Ken Yanow shows the various drones available for students in the drone program.

Surrounded by Southwestern College math and science students, the congresswomen made their way to one of the new chemistry labs, where Professor David Hecht proudly showed off the new facilities that include a high fume hood, house vacuum and air and a dedicated balance room.

A short walk down the hall brought the tour to the college’s new fermentation lab—where the program’s first batch of beer was brewing. Professors Hecht and Charlie Hoyt had mixed all the ingredients just the day before and the yeast was happily doing its thing in the five-gallon container.

Professor David Hecht pulls a sample of the fermentation program’s inaugural batch of beer to determine alcohol content.
Professor David Hecht pulls a sample of the fermentation program’s inaugural batch of beer to determine alcohol content.

Hecht pulled a sample from the fermenter so that he could place it in the refractometer to determine the alcohol content by measuring the specific gravity. Hecht passed the instrument around so the visitors could see the specific gravity through the viewfinder. Hoyt passed around the remaining sample—which already had carbon dioxide bubbles and was a golden amber color.

Governing Board President Roberto Alcantar was proud to show off the college’s latest academic building.

“Our community has some of the greatest needs, yet every time we ask them to improve our college, they have always stepped up,” Alcantar said. “The opportunities contained within this new building will prepare our students for the careers of the future.”