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Physical Sciences and Engineering Center (PSEC)

The PSEC Project — Building for the Future

On June 6, 2006, voters in the Foothill-De Anza District's service area approved, by a 65.69 percent margin, a $490.8 million bond (Measure C). Chancellor Linda Thor states that, "Measure C now enables Foothill College . . . to renovate . . . classrooms, laboratories and offices with a modern infrastructure that will provide updated electrical, heating and ventilation systems, convenient access for people with disabilities, and 21st century technology critical for delivering quality instruction and services to our students."


The Physical Sciences & Enginering Center (PSEC), is scheduled to open in January 2013. It is the future home of the Foothill College Science Learning Institute (SLI) which will foster an environment of collaboration and innovation, allowing dedicated faculty to teach, inspire and transform how STEM subjects (science, technology, engineering and math) are taught and learned. In addition to increasing the transfer rates of students studying STEM subjects, the SLI will develop a STEM work force prepared for jobs opening in biotechnology, nanotechnology and renewable energy systems. Download the FC_SLI.pdf.

Design Details

In 2009, Ratcliff Architects won statewide recognition with a Community College Facility Coalition Award of Merit for the Project in Design category for the Foothill College Physical Sciences & Engineering Center (PSEC). All design and structural components of the new PSEC facility and grounds complement the distinct Pacific-style architecture for which Foothill College is internationally renown. The facility has also been designed to achieve the U.S. Green Building Council's Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design LEED® silver rating. The center is 65,800 square feet and consists of three buildings:

1. The lab building

  • five chemistry labs
  • four physics/engineering labs
  • materials and nanoscience labs
  • one classroom and data analysis room
  • two student special project areas
  • large chemistry instrumentation room

2. The classroom building

  • six classrooms
  • two large lecture rooms

3. The commons area

  • conference/multipurpose space
  • STEM student social area
  • faculty offices


Construction of the Physical Sciences & Engineering Center (PSEC) began in February 2011 by the Bay Area's Hathaway Dinwiddie Construction Company. The project, which has a cost $41,576,000, is funded by Measure C — a $490.8 million bond approved in 2006 by voters residing in the Foothill-De Anza Community College District service area.* The project includes complete reconstruction of Parking Lot 4 and site improvements around a new three-building complex. Download the Construction Zone Map (pdf).

Hathaway Dinwiddie Construction Project
PSEC Construction

Topping Out Ceremony

Donors, community leaders, and Foothill-De Anza Community College District trustees joined Foothill College students, faculty and staff for a construction site topping out ceremony for the college's new PSEC buildings on Friday, Oct. 21, from 1 to 2:30 p.m. The ceremony gave key players in a building's creation - the opportunity to sign their names to the final beam that will be moved into place by workers to mark the topping out phase of the structure's steel frame. The event took place in Parking Lot 4, which is adjacent to the construction site of the new building at the campus in Los Altos Hills.

Slideshow of the ceremony

PSEC Open House

On February 26, 2013, PSEC held an open house for the local community, the college and its partners. Foothill President, Judy Miner, welcomed about 150 guests which included educational partners from UC Santa Cruz, Stanford University, Mountain View Los Altos High School District, Palo Alto Unified School District and Trustees, foundation members, citizen's bond oversight committee and advisory council members. Guests gathered in the courtyard to hear speeches by Chancellor Linda Thor, Judy Miner, and others instrumental in the PSEC building project. After the speeches guests toured the classrooms and laboratories where they were treated to scientific demonstrations of the AFM and SEM electron microscopes, the 3-d printer, and others.

PSEC Cafe (Photo by Ellie Van Houtte/Los Altos Town Crier)

PSEC is showcased with a larger-than-life aluminum sculpture of figures interacting with atomic structures which is located at the top of the hill and is visible from the campus loop road. At the PSEC entrance a large periodic table spans the wall where donors names are written on elements that they have purchased as part of a fund raising project. PSEC opened its doors to students at the beginning of winter quarter 2013. Students and faculty have expressed their appreciation and pleasure of working in well lit, state-fo-the-art buildings.

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