Exciting changes are beginning on the campus of Northwest Iowa Community College!
With the 74% passage of our General Obligation Bond in April of 2018, NCC officials are now in the process of implementing plans to enhance and expand programs in order to serve students well into the future.
Part of the mission of Northwest Iowa Community College, and a real concern for college officials, is meeting the educational needs for more skilled workers in Northwest Iowa. After listening to current and potential students along with industry leaders, one area of need identified was to create a modern educational space for the Diesel Technology and Automotive & Light Duty Diesel Programs.
Building D was built in 1968 and has been maintained very well, but because of industry changes, the labs are not conducive to today’s educational needs for those programs. Trucks and farming equipment were smaller during the 1960’s, and the current lab spaces are not big enough for today’s vehicles. Steve Waldstein, Dean—Applied Technology, stated, “The new construction will have garage door openings that are high and wide enough to drive the big modern tractor trailers and agricultural equipment directly into the labs. There will now be longer trailer bays that will let the instructors close the overhead doors while the equipment is in the lab.”
The need to expand Building D’s programs is a necessity for the college. Waldstein explained, “In 1968, having space for 18 students was a great enrollment number to imagine. In 2019, with the current industry demand for more skilled technicians, we need more room to educate students effectively and efficiently.” For example, in the fall of 2018 NCC had 105 inquiries in the Diesel Technology Program, and only 18 could be admitted due to the size of the labs and how many students they were built to educate. Waldstein continued, “Unfortunately, that meant the local students who wanted training needed to look at other learning opportunities out of the local area.”
When the addition/remodel is complete, NCC officials predict they will be able to admit a total of 22 first year students (44 total first and second year students) into the program. By year three, NCC officials expect to have 26 admitted first year students (52 total first and second year students) in the program. “With that many students in the program, we also foresee the need to hire a Lab Teaching Assistant within the first two years,” stated Waldstein.
Research shows that 81% of community college students stay in Iowa, and we know about 40% of NCC alumni stay right in our 4 ½ counties, becoming productive citizens in our community. “Strategically this is a really good thing for our local communities. This will keep NCC graduates living and raising families in Northwest Iowa,” said Waldstein.
Planning started in earnest for this addition/remodel right after the passage of the General Obligation Bond in April 2018. Mark Brown, Vice President—College Operations & Finance, said, “Planning for the addition and renovation of Building D has been a complicated challenge. Logistically there are a lot of people and physical spaces involved that needed to be accounted for.” Brown continued, “The college was committed to not pausing our Building D programs for a year while the construction took place, and it takes a lot of creative thinking to make that happen. We are committed to our students and the local industry that needs a skilled workforce in order to operate and expand in the area.”
Input from many different perspectives has been a very intentional process in determining what is needed for Building D programs for the next 50 years. There have been a lot of discussions with instructors, alumni, program advisory boards, and students. “Input from instructors has been instrumental in the design of the new areas,” stated Brown. “The alumni and program advisory boards have contributed ideas to make the space equal to or better than industry standards. The students that were surveyed said they needed more student common/social areas, and we have listened to them.” The new building will have a patio and a student lounge with access to computers, TV’s, and seating.
Waldstein explained, “One of the new features that we are excited to have for use by both the Diesel Technology and Automotive & Light Duty Diesel Programs is an Engine Simulation Lab.” The Engine Lab will be a space dedicated to Engine Trainers, Hydraulic Trainers, and Heating Ventilation and Air Conditioning (HVAC) trainers. “These are real engines that our instructors can program with a specific problem and then let the students identify and fix it.”
There are other important features for the new Building D. It will now provide access to an elevator which will bring the building into compliance for ADA concerns and make the space accessible for more students. It will feature large windows with a second story walkway so visitors can have a bird’s eye view of the Diesel Technology lab. This not only provides natural light in the lab space, but also allows for uninterrupted classes as prospective students visit the college to decide if the program is right for continuing their education. It will also give the prospective student a better perspective and overview of the program and everything that goes on in the labs. The building design will allow for more collaborative and educational spaces for the students and room for large projects. Improved visual sightlines will provide the instructors a non-disrupted view of the labs and better oversight with increased safety for students.
Dr. Alethea Stubbe said, “Thank you to our alumni and community members for your vision and long range planning for our community. We look forward to continuing to build our communities through quality, accessible, and affordable education. We are thankful to contribute to the strength and vitality of Northwest Iowa and the communities we serve.”
Phase 1: Starting in May 2019 (after spring graduation) construction will begin for the Automotive & Light Duty Diesel and Diesel Technology program spaces that are located in Building D.
• Welding Program will permanently move to Building C. Program reopening in the new location fall semester of 2019.
• Automotive & Light Duty Diesel Program is relocating to the Applied Technology building sharing space with the Heavy Equipment & Maintenance Program from the summer of 2019–January 1, 2020. Program reopening in the new location spring semester of 2020.
• Diesel Technology Program is being relocated to a building in Rock Valley, Iowa (the former Coop building) for the 2019–2020 academic year. Program reopening in the new location on campus fall semester of 2020.
• Planning will start for the new Health Facilities this summer (2019). Groundbreaking planned for the spring of 2020.
Square Footage Current New
Automotive Lab 16,440 20,937
Diesel Technology Lab 14,592 20,640
Engine and Simulation Lab 5,939
Classrooms 6,900 11,110
Halls/Stairs 1,200 1,380
Total 39,132 60,006
*For comparison, the new Applied Technology
Building, which opened in the fall of 2017, is 22,000 square feet.