Eau Claire (WQOW) - The Eau Claire Plan Commission gives its support for a college expansion project. Monday night, the plan commission recommended the city council approve plans for a new energy education center on CVTC's west campus.
"The building itself will be part of the training and demonstration," said Aliesha Crowe, Education Director-Agriculture, Energy, Transportation, and Construction at Chippewa Valley Technical College.
The East Annex of the CVTC Business Education Center is filled with all types of programs. But there's not much space to expand, so the school will be shifting a few of those programs west.
"The Energy Education Center project is an expansion and remodel of our current Transportation Education Center. The existing facility is about 24,000 square feet, and we'll be adding approximately 30,000 square feet," said Crowe.
All that extra room will be a big relief to those in the school's Clairemont Avenue location.
"This lab currently houses five of our different programs and the energy-related equipment they use for training. When we get to the new Energy Education Center, we'll be able to have classrooms and demonstration labs for all of our different programs that are currently sharing one space," explained Crowe.
CVTC says a mix of courses which all incorporate energy usage, from agriculture to residential housing, will be moving into the new facility.
"We have approved the sustainable facilities operations program. That would be a two-year associate's degree that would really train facilities managers in incorporating automated technology and other green energy related projects into their training," Crowe said.
The expansion and renovations come in part due to a growing demand for those types of workers.
"We continue to be contacted for Civil Structural students for example, and we actually placed all of our civil students from this last spring, and we're hearing from local businesses that are building that they need technicians who are trained in this area," added Crowe.
CVTC hopes to break ground on the new Energy Education Center this fall. If everything goes according to plan, students will be able to take classes in there in the fall of 2014.
CVTC says the renovation and expansion will cost around $8 million. Of that, $5.5 million comes from CVTC's budget, and the rest comes from a mixture of private and public donations.
The college expansion plan raised some questions because recently, WQOW News 18 reported on a drop in enrollment at CVTC. The college says there are certain classes in which demand is very strong and it's weak in others. For example, there are 44 open seats in a business management course, but in electrical power distributions, the class is full for the fall and there are 44 people on a waiting list.