Advanced Technology Center construction delivers hands-on learning zone

Posted: July 02, 2015

Providing students with real-world learning opportunities is a hallmark of the educational experience at Bates Technical College.

So when construction began last year on the Advanced Technology Center at Central/Mohler Campus, a handful of program instructors began collaborating with Marty Mattes, the college’s director of facilities and operations, to offer students a peek into what it’s like in the industry through touring the construction site. Scheduled for completion fall 2015, the building will house engineering, information technology, and digital media programs, and will begin holding classes winter quarter.

Nearly 25 students and faculty from the college’s engineering programs, which include electrical, civil, mechanical, and fire protection, toured the site on two occasions, with a third scheduled later this summer.

The Electrical Engineering Technician program teaches students to use computer-aided drafting to design and draft electrical systems in buildings. “Site visits such as this will be part of our graduates’ job responsibilities as they review contractors’ work for quality and contract compliance.

“It’s easy to get confused about what we do,” explains instructor Stan Reed. “We don’t test, fix or install things. We perform all the calculations, selection and specification of lighting and electrical equipment, and we design and draft building electrical systems. The electrician bids, purchases materials, and installs all of the building electrical components as shown on the plans our graduates draw,” says Reed.

Wade Flores, first-year student in the electrical engineering program, was eager to visit the site. “It brought our education experience full circle, because we were able to see electrical designs in-person,” he says.

During the initial visit four months ago, students were able to see the in-ground holes for the geothermal heating, and watched the pouring of concrete floor slabs with piping and conduit. Last month, during the group’s second tour, they were able to review electrical panels and the initial placement, wiring rough-in, bent conduit, and more.

“These tours enhance the learning experience in a variety of ways,” tells Reed.  “When I’m taking students through the design of a new building, watching construction crews lay out panels, wires, and eventually the lighting gives students a visual reference to place in the CAD system. It makes better sense when they view the work in-person.”

Reed’s students had an opportunity to talk with the contractor about some of the electrical challenges the crew encountered during construction, which helped to highlight for the students the importance of creating CAD documents with high attention to detail and accuracy.

First-year student Lawrence Collins enjoyed the tour. “I thought it was interesting to see how the building is constructed, and all the substance that goes behind the scenes. It takes a lot more planning that what I thought,” he says.

Zach Richardson notes he was most fascinated with seeing how the conduit runs. “It was also interesting to see how the concrete was poured, and how they used sprinkler systems to keep the concrete cool,” he says.

These tours will help the students apply what they’ve learned. Second-year student Zach Nelson notes, “It helped us to visualize the blueprints, via CAD, and how our jobs will interact with electricians.”

In addition to the programs mentioned above, when complete, the two-story ATC will house student services and faculty offices, general education classrooms, and a learning resource center. The $23 million campus improvements include meeting spaces for events, trade shows and conferences, and is designed to meet gold certification standard from the United States Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design program. One main feature of the building is a large studio lab, which will serve as an iconic element easily seen from 19th Street.

Concludes instructor Reed, “The main thing I hope my students take away from this experience is an actual visualization of what is done with the plans they create, and the actual physical work that is completed on site—in essence, a practical application of their education.”


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