He ran his hand along the workstation, felt the sawdust. The smell of newness filled the shop. Metal surfaces, once dull, gleamed. Tools, ready for use, lined walls.
“This is just so amazing,” Gonzales said, glancing around. “I wish it looked like this when I started taking classes.”
The Coconino Community College C-LAB for Construction Technology Management students has officially opened for students. More than 50 people were on hand for the late-January ribbon-cutting celebration. The newly refurbished shop was made possible with the help of a $1 million grant from the Del E. Webb Foundation.
Among those in attendance were CCC students and staff; CCC District Governing Board members and Foundation Board members; city and county officials; local construction business representatives; and members of the Del E. Webb Foundation Board.
“We are so very grateful for this gift from the Del Webb Foundation – one of the largest gifts ever received by Coconino Community College,” said CCC President Colleen A. Smith. “Being able to provide our faculty with more of the resources and equipment they need for the most current and innovative education possible for our students is huge for this college. The faculty give so much of themselves, including their own time and resources, because they truly care about the students. They want the students to get great jobs in Coconino County that meet the workforce-training needs of our communities.”
Gonzales was among those recognized during the celebration. He said watching the project go from paper, through the architectural process, to seeing it being built and completed was rewarding.
“I feel pretty grateful that I was actually part of the process in the project,” he said.
Gonzales was enrolled in the college’s CTM 288 Construction Supervision class last year. He and his fellow students helped CCC estimate a budget for the upgrade of the CTM facility and the cost of equipment to strengthen and create in-demand CTM programs at the Fourth Street campus. The estimate was part of the students’ capstone assignment because CCC faculty members wanted student input throughout the whole project.
Gonzales was also part of the architectural and design phase. “I’m so happy I got to be a part of that. It’s actually happened.”
Gonzales first came to CCC to enroll in the college’s five-week Certified Apartment Maintenance Technician (CAMT) program. After he landed a job as a maintenance tech at a local apartment complex, he continued taking classes and is nearly done with the requirements for an associate degree. He currently has joined forces with another CAMT graduate and CCC student, who started his own contracting company. Gonzales works as a field operations manager, making sure that work is getting done according to set timetables and that all the materials needed are available. The company does a variety of work, including home remodels, maintenance work and landscaping.
The estimate that Gonzales and his classmates completed during the capstone class was included in a grant proposal to the Del E. Webb Foundation that was subsequently approved.
During the C-LAB ribbon cutting ceremony, John B. Lees, president of the Del E. Webb Foundation, said he has never seen such passion among the faculty in working for the benefit of students.
The Foundation had previously funded cardiac machines for the CCC Allied Health programs, and when members came for a visit, they were impressed with the construction work of a Simulation Lab the students use for skill building. They discovered that students and faculty built the SimLab on a shoestring budget and wanted to see the construction shop. After visiting the shop, the Del E. Webb Foundation wanted to help CCC construction students.
The funding served several purposes: The renovation of the CTM shop; the expansion of existing CTM classes; and the addition of in-demand programs like Heating, Ventilation, Air-Conditioning and Refrigeration (HVACR) Technology, Welding Technology, Electrical Technology, Solar and Wind Technology and Electronic Drafting.
The goal is to increase the number of degree and certificate earners at CCC from an average of 30 students to more than 90 in a three-year period. The increase is intended to help meet the demand cited by leaders of local construction companies, all of whom need workers skilled in the construction trades.
According to the Arizona Office of Economic Opportunity, construction jobs are projected to record the largest percentage gain in growth (more than 47,000 jobs) between the years of 2016-2026. FBN
By Larry Hendricks, FBN
For more information about CCC’s degrees and certificates, visit coconino.edu/degrees-and-certificates.
Larry Hendricks is the public relations coordinator for Coconino Community College.