by jamesc 10/18/2013 3:52:38 PM --
NORFOLK – Nebraska Governor Dave Heineman said the state’s community colleges serve as a link between businesses and higher education to create programs which result in a highly-skilled workforce. “Nebraska’s community colleges are a link to the future for our communities and the state.” Heineman made his remarks at a groundbreaking ceremony Thursday at the site of Northeast Community College’s Applied Technology building.
The future 66,613 square foot Applied Technology facility, to be constructed on the north end of the Norfolk campus, will house the Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning (HVAC), Building Construction, Electromechanical, Electrical Construction and Control, and Wind Energy Technology programs. The $9.1 million facility will include classrooms, faculty offices, labs for hands-on-training, lab support areas including a fabrication/tool room, storage areas, and a student lounge/study area to serve over 200 students.
Heineman said there is a correlation between educational success and economic success. “Ever since I have been governor, I have said education and jobs. We want to give our young people the very best education we can give them and then create jobs right here in Nebraska.” Heineman said people he has spoken with in the construction industry said they need students to fill jobs once they graduate. He told Northeast students in attendance at the ceremony, “I don’t want a single one of you to leave the state of Nebraska. I know we have jobs all over the state for you and want to make sure we are taking care of that.”
“This Applied Technology building will provide a location to expand programs that reflect the technologies and curriculum needed for today’s workforce,” Heineman said.
Dr. Michael Chipps, president of Northeast Community College, echoed the governor’s comments. “These and other technical programs have the continual challenge of meeting industry demands for highly qualified, well trained employees.” He said the new building will also impact the entire college. “The project allows Northeast to better address pressing programming needs with Welding, Industrial Manufacturing, Humanities, and Arts and Social Sciences, just to name a few. So, it will help to serve as a catalyst for new programming opportunities and other pressing campus needs.”
John Davies, vice chairperson of the Northeast Community College Board of Governors, said “This is an important day for Northeast Community College, especially for many of us who have seen the need for this facility for such a long time.”
Davies thanked Northeast Applied Technology students, members of the College’s Applied Technology advisory committees, College administration, and employers for allowing for the building to be constructed. “You share our vision for the future in providing a strong workforce and some highly technical jobs for Northeast Nebraska.”
Northeast Community College Dean of Applied Technology Lyle Kathol said the new facility will allow five training programs the ability to expand curriculum and offerings to include green energy technology used in the construction trades. “This expansion will also allow for other program expansion in facilities vacated by these programs, and additional business and industry training opportunities.”
Kathol said the new facility isn’t just for students. “We are going to provide additional training opportunities, not only for students, but for workers in the region through Northeast’s new Center for Enterprise. It’s all about the students and our constituents in our 20 county area.
Don Wisnieksi, a 1983 Northeast Technical Community College building construction graduate, now serves on the College’s building construction advisory committee. Speaking at Thursday’s ceremony, he said the expansion of the Northeast building construction program is a reflection of the growth in the area as well as Northeast Community College. “This new facility is going to allow for (additional) space of specialty equipment that is used in the construction fields today that we simply did not have room to put in the current facilities. With the tremendous push in today’s society for green built homes and the technology associated with that, it is exciting to see the educational opportunities for our students.”
The Norfolk Homebuilders Association, of which Wisnieski serves as acting president, has been a supporter of the various Applied Technology programs at Northeast. “We have committed a monetary contribution to the construction of this new facility, showing our continued support of the programs here,” he said.
There is another factor with the Applied Technology facility and the future nearby Physical Plant building: a safer campus. The facilities will be located away from the majority of pedestrian traffic on campus. “By moving heavy vehicle traffic away from the center of the college, we are continuing to foster a pedestrian safe environment for our students, employees and the countless guests who continuously use our facilities for educational and recreational purposes,” Dr. Chipps said.
Construction is expected to take two years. Classes will begin in the new Applied Technology building in spring 2016. Over 200 students will be in the building once it opens.
A ceremony was held Thursday at Northeast Community College to break ground for its Applied Technology building. Those taking part in the ceremony included (from left) Gene Willers , Don Oelsligle, and Larry Poessnecker, Northeast board members; Don Wisnieski, Northeast building construction advisory committee; John Davies, Northeast board vice chairperson; Governor Dave Heineman; Lyle Kathol, Northeast dean of applied technology; Decker Beller, Greg Christen, and Nate Gaukel, Northeast students, Lynne Koski, Northeast vice president of administrative services, and Dr. Michael Chipps, Northeast president.