WEIRTON - A local college is continuing its mission of improving the services and educational opportunities available to area residents by expanding its facilities and offering some new programs.
Officials broke ground Tuesday at the Weirton campus of West Virginia Northern Community College for a $2.1 million expansion for new classroom areas to accommodate the expanding curriculum.
The 9,590 square foot addition will include two classrooms and three laboratory areas to be used for health sciences classes and the college's Mechatronics program, which is designed to prepare individuals to be electrical and mechanical maintenance technicians.
groundbreaking for WVNCC expansion
Those studying Mechatronics will receive an associate in applied science degree.
The addition will have two floors as well as options to use solar panels on the roof.
Health sciences continues to have a great deal of interest at the college, according to school officials, and Mechatronics is expected to advance the state's initiatives involving workforce development, including the Steelworker for the Future program offered in partnership with ArcelorMittal Steel.
GROUND BROKEN — Local elected officials joined representatives of West Virginia Northern Community College Tuesday in breaking ground on the new addition for the school’s Weirton’s campus. The expansion will provide classrooms and lab space for an expanding curriculum. -- Craig Howell
DISCUSSES HISTORY OF CAMPUS — Mike Koon, vice president of economic and workforce development for WVNCC, discussed some of the history of the Weirton campus and its growth prior to the groundbreaking Tuesday. -- Craig Howell
"It's going to help the people of Weirton and West Virginia," Martin J. Olshinsky, president of WVNCC, said. "It's the beginning of a glorious addition to the college."
Mike Koon, vice president of economic and workforce development for WVNCC, explained students in the Mechatronics programs will learn to install, replace, troubleshoot and repair equipment used in manufacturing facilities.
"All technical courses have an intensive hands-on lab component as students learn skills in electrical systems, motor control, hydraulics and pneumatics, programmable logic controllers, instrumentation, workplace safety and problem solving and teamwork," Koon stated.
Koon noted some of the Weirton campus' history and mentioned the loss of two of the college's biggest supporters in the last year with the deaths of Don Donell and Marjorie Greco.
"I'm sure they'd be proud of this," Koon said.
WVNCC can trace its history back to 1972 when it was created from the former Hancock County and Wheeling branches of West Liberty State College. It acquired property in Weirton in 1975, using seven modular buildings for its classrooms. The first permanent building, known as the Redline Building and named after Weirton Steel President Jack Redline, was completed in 1982. The second, and most recent phase of improvements would be completed in 2000 and would include the addition of new classrooms, a library, science labs, a student center and office space.
Designs on the new building addition were done by SMG Architects of Wheeling, with Trushel Construction of Weirton awarded the construction bid on the project.
"These are jobs created for this area," Olshinsky said.
Vic Greco, of SMG Architects, stated he was among the students to have classes in the old modular buildings.
He explained often a project such as this can be "a daunting exercise" as those involved each try to get something different out of the project. This expansion, he said, was the exact opposite because of the leadership of West Virginia Northern and their willingness to work together for the betterment of the community.
"That made my job more easy; actually more fun," Greco said.
WVNCC Chief Financial Officer/Vice President of Administrative Services Steve Lippiello worked closely with SMG Architects and Trushel Construction.
"Everything is interchangeable in the new addition," Lippiello stated. "The space has multiple uses; it's not just stagnant. One of our goals was to maximize the flexibility of the space."
Construction work is expected to be completed March 2012.
(Howell can be contacted at email@example.com)