Salt Lake Community College is sewn into the fabric of the city, with 10 locations across the Wasatch front, and an 11th on the way.
The Westpointe Workforce Training & Education Center will open next week for the Fall 2018 semester. SLCC’s newest learning facility is nestled in the industrial corner of Salt Lake City. The building gets its name from the nearby Westpointe community. Some of SLCC’s partners like L3 Technologies and Boeing are neighbors to the Westpointe Center.
13 programs will be offered at the new campus. Subjects include composites technology, diesel systems technology, engineering design and drafting, industrial automation, manual machinist, plastics technology, professional truck driving, solar and welding.
Rick Bouillon, Associate Vice President for Workforce and Economic Development, explains that the Westpointe campus is a state-of-the-art center with the latest technology, some of which was provided to the school by some of the industrial leaders surrounding the campus.
Bouillon says SLCC looked at other colleges around the country who have similar technical education buildings, but also reached out to local program advisory members to help design a campus that would serve the all the students’ needs, and create a learning foundation in the industrial area of the city.
“We were able to get direct input from industry (members) to say ‘here’s what this particular lab needs to look like,’” says Bouillon, “Our architect groups, AJC out of Salt Lake, and SRG out of Seattle; they’ve built several of these types of facilities around the world. We were able to incorporate some of the best concepts of what they’ve put into other facilities into this one.”
The campus had a lofty price tag of $46 million; luckily the bill was fronted by an appropriation from the 2016 Utah Legislature. Local industries also donated another $2 million to the campus on top of the technology already provided.
Both the Legislature and the community see the importance of investing into public education for future jobs in a growing commerce.
“If we take care of students, we take care of the community, which takes cares of industry,” says Bouillon. “We want to give our students the best opportunity in the highest technical environment that we can.”
Bouillon believes that students who will leave the campus with their degree or certification will find themselves in a technical industry that is seeing many jobs open up, with a large number of retirements from the Baby Boomers. Still, Bouillon isn’t seeing enough students take advantage of the growing job gaps left behind.
“We need to get the exposure into the high school level — the young adults, so that we can possibly help someone maybe working from the service sector and show them what a technical career can be all about,” says Bouillon. “There’s just tremendous opportunity. The end result is employment.”
The process to get the campus built started several years ago, when SLCC requested money from the state to construct a new building in a location central to industry in Salt Lake City. The building was originally named the Career and Technical Center before being renamed to reflect the community.
The design of the campus is unique in that students who are studying a particular subject will find all of the related fields and things needed to work in that space. For instance, if a student is taking Diesel Technician classes, all the diesel-related classes will be in the same spot on campus. The projected efficiency of students working in the related clustered areas is to simulate what a real-life work area is like.
Students who are interested in taking classes at the Westpointe Center won’t need any sort of prerequisite to get started on classes. Students can go in with minimal experience and work with the available cutting edge technology.
The Westpointe Center officially opens August 22, 2018.
Photos by Jacob W. Erickson