Four stores inside the former Highland Mall have been outfitted with state-of-the-art advanced laboratory equipment to create a bioscience incubator, and Austin Community College biotechnology student and intern Marcia McCallum couldn't be happier.

She had only one word—"magic"—to describe the new bioscience incubator, which opened today and offers wet lab space, clean rooms, ample work space and the latest biotechnology equipment to students pursuing a two-year biotechnology degree.

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After putting her four children through college by waitressing, McCallum decided to take a stab at college herself, initially pursuing nursing before finding herself falling in love with cell culturing in a microbiology class.

Before long, she landed an internship at the new bioscience incubator, where she'll learn to work with some of the incubator companies that lease the wet space to develop products such as pharmaceuticals and medical devices. Upon graduation at the end of this summer, McCallum said she hopes to have caught the eye of a company that will allow her to continue working in the cell culture field after graduation.

"This is innovation at its best," ACC President and CEO Richard Rhodes said at the incubator's opening ceremony. "This is what ACC's all about."

The opening of the bioscience incubator inside the former Highland Mall marks the start of Phase 2 campus redevelopment project. The college expects to open new faculty offices this spring, and ACC's fine arts programs are expected to move to Highland this year, with new art studios and classrooms expected to open this summer. A regional workforce innovation complex, which includes a performing arts center and a STEM simulator lab, is also planned in Phase 2.