The Pulaski Technical College Foundation is using a $295,262 grant from the Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation to help pay for the opening of the college's Transportation Technology Center on Interstate 30 next year.
The new center will enable the college to expand and enhance its transportation-related programs to serve more students wishing to attain skills for a career in the transportation industry and at the same time help supply area industries with the highly skilled workers they need.
In summer 2005, the college bought the former Little Rock Expo Center on Interstate 30 for $4.2 million. Renovation of the 159,000-square-foot building is expected to cost $16 million and be completed in spring 2008.
Once completed, the college's Automotive Technology, Automotive Collision Repair and Diesel Mechanics programs will be relocated to the Transportation Technology Center. These programs are currently housed on the college's main campus in North Little Rock and are operating beyond capacity. The automotive technology and automotive collision repair programs were designed to accommodate 40 students each, but serve 78 and 62, respectively. The diesel mechanics program is designed for 24 students and serves 25. In addition, the college will add a Motorcycle/ATV Technology and repair program.
"Every year we have more people apply for technical programs than we have space for," said Mike Sneed, dean of technical and industrial programs at Pulaski Tech. "Our goal is to be able to offer training to every student who comes to us."
The center also will offer general education courses that students need to complete the Associate of Applied Science in Transportation Facilities Management.
Students can pursue technical certificates in collision repair technology, automotive technology, motorcycle/ATV technology, or diesel mechanics. Certificates of proficiency will be offered in damage analysis and estimates, engine machinist, parts specialist, alternative fuels, tractor and trailer operation, tractor and trailer servicing, and tire center operation.
Nationally, the U.S. Department of Labor Employment and Training Administration identified the automotive industry as one of 12 high-growth, high-demand industries.
In Arkansas, the demand for trained technicians in the automotive industry is expected to continue growing.
"We don't want to have to turn away anyone wishing to pursue job training in these fields, and we don't want our area businesses and industries to have to go out of state to find qualified workers," said Dr. Dan. F. Bakke, college president. "The new Transportation Technology Center will enable us to assist students in acquiring the skills they need for these jobs while promoting the economic development in central Arkansas."
The Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation grant will be used over a three-year period to help with planning and start-up operations of the Transportation Technology Center.
Taggart Foster Currence Gray Architects Inc. has been hired as the project architect. Gene Aist, a Little Rock consultant, was hired to develop curriculum for the programs. A general contractor has not been hired yet.
In 1974 the Trustees of Governor Winthrop Rockefeller's estate endowed the Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation to continue the work of The Rockwin Fund. Gov. Rockefeller set up The Rockwin Fund in 1954 and, on an annual basis from 1956 until his death in 1973, funded projects and programs he believed were important to improving the quality of life in Arkansas.
The Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation is a private, nonprofit foundation whose mission is to improve the lives of Arkansans by funding programs and projects that improve education, economic development and economic, racial and social justice. During the past 30 years, the Foundation has awarded over $85 million in grants. Additional information about the Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation can be found on its Web site, www.wrfoundation.org
"We are grateful to the Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation for their generosity and for recognizing the significance of this project to central Arkansas," said Joyce Taylor, executive director of the Pulaski Technical College Foundation.
The college also has received a $1,271,500 Department of Labor Community Based Job Training grant in support of the Transportation Technology Center. Of the federal funding, $960,000 will be used to buy equipment, $247,500 will be used for new instruction salaries and benefits; $3,000 for conventions and travel and $60,550 for indirect administrative expenses.
Pulaski Technical College is a comprehensive, two-year college that serves the educational needs of central Arkansas through more than 50 occupational/technical degree and certificate programs, a university-transfer curriculum and specialized programs for business and industry.
The college's mission is to provide access to high quality education that promotes student learning, to enable individuals to develop to their fullest potential and to support the economic development of the state.