Construction Begins on New $43M Trades Building for SLCC
SALT LAKE CITY, UT Construction is set to begin on a new facility to house more than a dozen of the college's career and technical education programs. SLCC's Westpointe Center, 2150 W. Dautless Ave., will provide 121,000 square feet of workspace for programs such as advanced composites, welding fabrication and inspection, solar energy, nondestructive testing, machining, diesel mechanics, and commercial driver licensing.
Many of those programs are currently housed in different SLCC campuses across the Salt Lake Valley. Putting them under one roof will provide a dedicated hub for instructors, administrators and industry partners. It will also facilitate a cross-pollination of skills and resources for students, according to Rick Bouillon, Dean of SLCC's School of Technical Specialties.
"It will better serve our students because it will give them access to the latest and the highest level of technology in an environment that's conducive to that type of training," Bouillon said. "They need to understand other aspects of technology in order to better understand the main discipline they're in."
The new building will include 34 labs, eight classrooms, a 3-acre diesel truck driving range and new lab equipment. The project is largely funded from a $42.6 million appropriation from the state Legislature this year. Lawmakers also provided $3 million last year for pre-construction and design.
SLCC currently offers 106 credit certificate programs, 32 degree programs and 29 noncredit certificate programs, producing more than 27 percent of Utah's career and technical education graduates.
Demand for those trades is also on the rise, especially as the baby boom generation enters retirement, leaving vacancies in high-skill jobs in Utah and other places, Bouillon said.
In 2014, the northern half of the state saw almost 5,800 job openings in aeronautics, composites, diesel tech, electronics, welding, drivers and material testing.
"Our industry partners and our program advisory committees, they're clamoring for more qualified technicians in all of these areas to enter the workforce and join their teams," he said.
SLCC's student enrollment has steadily declined from a peak of 33,983 students in 2010 to 28,814 last year, a trend attributed largely to improving economic conditions in the state and the change in age requirements for missionaries of the LDS Church. But college leaders hope the new facility will draw new interest from prospective students.
"Having these programs co-located with the highest level of technology available will allow us to be better in recruiting those younger students and introducing them into a career that maybe they hadn't thought about previously," Bouillon said.