DCTC takes major step to help eliminate Minnesota’s skills gap
The Transportation and Emerging Technologies Renovation Project at Dakota County Technical College targets Minnesota’s skills gap—a gap intensified by increasing employer demand for highly trained workers along with projected declines in postsecondary education levels attained by the state’s citizens. The college’s renovation project will help meet Minnesota’s need for a superbly skilled workforce by better preparing career-conscious students for the high-wage, high-skill, high-demand jobs that advance the state’s economy, including careers in STEM-related fields. STEM is a U.S. government acronym for fields of study in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics.
Made possible by $7.23 million in state funding, the renovation project eliminates $3.5 million in deferred maintenance and reduces the college’s Facilities Condition Index from .29 to .22 while cutting energy consumption by as much as 30 percent. Phase 1 of the project is scheduled to begin on the college’s Rosemount campus in spring 2013. Phase 2, which requires $6.9 million in additional funding, is slated for 2014.
Kelly Murtaugh, DCTC vice president of academic and student affairs, reported that the college community is exceedingly grateful for the state support and thrilled to take action on a project that is long overdue. “We need this renovation to address workforce challenges in the region,” Murtaugh said. “With improvements that go deeper than just lights and brights, the renovation will create a safer, more efficient environment for teaching and learning. The completed project will give DCTC the edge we need to deliver up-to-the-minute technical training in labs that match or exceed industry standards.”
Murtaugh added that the project also gives the college the capacity to anticipate and adapt to future changes in the job market. “We are building in the flexibility we need to react to rapidly emerging workforce trends. As an institution of higher learning—and especially as a technical college—DCTC can’t afford to move at a glacial pace. We have to be ready to serve our students by offering training that meets the changing needs of business and industry. That means we need to plan for what we know we don’t know regarding what types of jobs will be critical ten or twenty years down the road.”
Paul DeMuth, the college’s director of operations, emphasized efficiency and sustainability as fundamental features of the renovation project. “We will be replacing eight obsolete HV units in the transportation shops with four brand-new units that will use half the energy,” DeMuth said. “We will be installing a new electrical substation that will supply power to the entire southeast quadrant of the campus with a fifty percent savings in energy.”
The previously landlocked Welding Technology lab will be relocated to the outer perimeter of the main building, providing the program’s faculty and students with far better air quality and outside access to regularly delivered supplies and equipment. Other programs receiving deep-tier enhancements in Phase 1 are GM ASEP, Automotive Technician and Auto Body Collision Technology. Equipment and facility space sharing between programs, also known as coring, along with new, nonspecific classrooms will also greatly increase efficiency.
“We are making improvements at all levels both visible and behind the scenes,” DeMuth added. “The finished areas will be exactly like the brightly lit, freshly painted, user-friendly, technologically relevant, thoroughly safe work settings found in the most modern industry shops and facilities.”
Phase 2 will bring similar improvements to the Heavy Duty Truck Technology, Electrical Construction and Maintenance Technology, Heavy Construction Equipment Technology and Nanoscience Technology programs as well as ISD 917 shop space. The main commons area will also receive a complete remodel. All aspects of the renovation project will incorporate sustainable building practices and green materials wherever possible.
Brian Kelley is an education group manager at TKDA, the nationwide firm taking on the architectural design aspects of the renovation project. Kelley reported that TKDA and DCTC have a long, enjoyable history of working together on important college projects. “We are excited to move forward with this much-needed renovation,” he said. “We are going to make impressive enhancements to the aesthetics of the transportation and emerging technologies areas on the Rosemount campus, but even more importantly we are going behind the walls to create crucial upgrades in terms of safety, efficiency and industry relevance.”
For more details about different aspects of the project, visit DCTC Transportation and Emerging Technologies Renovation Project, or contact:
- Paul DeMuth
Director of Operations