FREMONT - The first new academic building on Terra Community College's campus in nearly 15 years soon will be under construction.
A groundbreaking ceremony for the nearly $4 million Skilled Trades Center will take place at 10 a.m. today at the site on the northeast corner of the college's campus in Fremont.
The building will include state-of-the-art labs for welding and truck driving studies as well as the heating, ventilation, and air conditioning program. The facility is expected to be completed in July and ready for classes by next school year.
"These are all what we consider skills for folks to move forward in their careers," said Bruce Meyer, dean of the college's technology and work-force development division. "Just about every one of these programs have just taken off."
The skilled trades programs have helped contribute to a record enrollment this year. It is up 8.8 percent, with 3,148 students on campus this fall, compared to 2,650 in 2008.
The skilled trades studies are layered programs, where students can get certificates and build into degrees, Mr. Meyer said.
The nearly 24,000-square-foot Skilled Trades Center will have new equipment to appropriately train students for the careers, Terra President Marsha Bordner said.
It will be primarily a one-story building, with a mezzanine to store portable equipment.
"The labs will be far more state-of-the-art, and they will be sized accordingly," Ms. Bordner said.
Welding labs will be smaller, for example, because of improvements in technology.
The automotive lab, meanwhile, will be large enough to accomodate a tractor-trailer.
The skilled trades programs are now in the Industrial Training Building, which will be renovated for other uses, Ms. Bordner said.
"When those programs move out, then we're going to turn one part of that building into an allied health and nursing wing. and the other will be music and arts," she said.
The new center's nearly $4 million cost is being paid primarily through state capital funds, but the renovation dollars likely will be paid by the college and through fund-raising, Ms. Bordner said.
The project is an exciting one for Terra and the greater Fremont community, she said.
"Anytime there's new construction in a community, it brings a level of excitement," Ms. Bordner said. "This is a commitment to the future and local employers because many of the contractors are local, and we're really proud to be able to do that."
Contact Meghan Gilbert at: