ELIZABETHTON — The Tennessee Technology Center at Elizabethton could have twice as many students within a few years after the completion of a major $16 million consolidation project just begun at the main campus.
Center Director Dean Blevins said construction began on the project about a week ago.
The main campus is located at 426 Tenn. Highway 91. Blevins said the $16 million for the project was secured with the help of former Speaker of the Tennessee House Kent Williams, of Elizabethton. The project will include the construction of three new buildings and the renovation of the existing building at the campus.
The original TTC campus is about four miles away on Arney Street in Elizabethton. This is known as the Herman Robinson Campus, named for the man most responsible for crafting legislation requiring the technology centers in the early 1960s. The Herman Robinson Campus is still used, but Blevins said the school has outgrown that 30,000-square-foot location.
The consolidation project will bring all the classes offered at the Herman Robinson Campus to the main campus site and will provide around 78,000 new square feet of space. The administration building has about 17,000 square feet of space.
“So we’ll have just below 100,000 square feet total, and when we complete the project, we’ll move everything from Arney Street to this location so everything will be housed on one location,” Blevins said.
Blevins said he would be in favor of giving the Arney Street building to the city and county school systems so technical programs could be taught there that would feed students into the TTC programs.
There are 27 technology centers across the state. These centers are governed by the Tennessee Board of Regents. The center in Elizabethton was one of the first to be established in the early 1960s.
“We’re sort of the first rung on the ladder of post-secondary education, highly focused in skill training, in technical areas,” Blevins said.
The curriculum at TTC includes courses in automotive technology, diesel mechanics, welding, electricity, business systems technology and nursing.
“We have the largest practical nursing program in the state of Tennessee as a single institution,” Blevins said.
There are around 240 nursing students each year who go through the nursing program.
Most of the training programs offered at TTC are one year to 18 months in length.
“We have about a 90 percent completion rate in all of our programs and about an 86 percent placement rate,” Blevins said, adding that the students are placed in jobs they were trained to do.
Blevins said 96 percent of the practical nursing students pass licensing exams.
“So we do a really excellent job with training the students, getting them graduated and into the work force,” Blevins said.
There are about 1,000 students enrolled at the school each year. Students begin programs as openings become available.
“All of our programs have waiting lists, some as long as three years,” Blevins said.
The consolidation project should reduce those waiting lists and allow the school to expand high-demand programs and offer new programs like drafting, machine tools and others.
“We anticipate almost doubling our enrollment over the next few of years with this new training facility,” Blevins said.
Elizabethton and Carter County should be able to recruit new companies that provide jobs, Blevins said.
The construction and renovations should be completed by January 2014.
For more information on the center, visit ttcelizabethton.edu.