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APG Discovery Center breaks ground for Phase 1 facility in Aberdeen

About 50 community and Aberdeen Proving Ground (APG) leaders joined the APG Discovery Center Board on March 27, for a ceremonial groundbreaking of its Preview Center, which will be located at the Aberdeen MARC Train Station on Bel Air Avenue. The Preview Center is the first phase of a multi-year plan to build a world-class science center in northeastern Maryland and will serve as a visitor’s center, meeting and work space, artifact storage area, exhibit area, and will provide funders and visitors a preview of the full-scale APG Discovery Center. The event was sponsored by Freedom Federal Credit Union and held at the Ruggles Golf Course Clubhouse at Aberdeen Proving Ground.

“Our goal is a $25 million state-of-the-art science center that rivals any regional science center found around the country,” said Barney Michel, president of the APG Discovery Center Board of Directors. “We’re starting that journey with a Preview Center, which thanks to the City of Aberdeen, will give us a foothold for the full-scale APG Discovery Center and a place from which to build.”

He continued, “The train station is not our permanent home, but the first step in bringing the permanent Discovery Center to fruition.”

Design, renovation, and installation of the Preview Center will cost approximately $390,000 and is being paid for by a combination of state and local grants, and corporate and individual sponsorships. The Preview Center will open in Fall 2019. Quatrefoil, a Maryland-based national exhibit design and fabrication firm, was chosen to provide design and project management for the project. Abbie Chessler, co-founder of the company, and Michel signed a contract between the organizations as part of the groundbreaking ceremony that will launch construction on the project. Quatrefoil subcontractors include Architectural Design Works (ADW) of Bel Air, and Commercial Interior Construction, of Kingsville.

The second phase of the APG Discovery Center is a small-scale science center planned for opening in FY2022 and featuring 10,000 SF of exhibit and multipurpose space, classrooms, meeting rooms available to the community, a gift shop, and an auditorium. The APG Discovery Center will once again expand in in Phase 3 — FY2025 — to a 35,000-SF facility capable of hosting more than 100,000 visitors each year. The APG Discovery Center will be an interactive space designed to give visitors a glimpse into the future of technology.

“Imagine if we’d had an APG Discovery Center here 40 years ago and we talked about how computers were going to be in every home,” said Charlie Nietubicz, vice president of the APG Discovery Center Board of Directors. “That’s what we want people to see – tomorrow’s technology today.”

When complete, the fully-scaled APG Discovery Center will function as an economic driver for the region, creating 187 new jobs, $13.5 million of economic output, $4.1 million in wages, and contributing an annual tax revenue of $1,083,829, according to a feasibility study conducted by Regional Economic Studies Institute (RESI) in December 2016.

Harford County Office of Community and Economic Development, APG Federal Credit Union, Freedom Federal Credit Union, SURVICE Engineering, and the City of Aberdeen have made multi-year pledges of support toward the project. Additional companies that have provided financial support include Leidos, Bravura, Cray Supercomputer, Jacobs Engineering, ManTech, Jones Junction, Booz Allen, ACET, Harford Community College, Cecil College, and many more.

“We are going to create the mid-Atlantic’s premier destination for science education and play,” said Michel. “This will be a resource for the community that provides invaluable opportunities and experiences for the students of our region and tells the world that the science and technology community here is alive, thriving, and looking forward to the needs of the future.”