AURORA, CO. – In less than 90 days, the Community College of Aurora will break ground on its newest building, the first in over 2 decades. The Center for STEM, Power Mechanics, and Applied Technologies, will house CCA’s most in-demand programming and career training solutions.
“The erection of this new building will ensure that social and economic mobility remain a driving and continued focus for all of our students. Furthermore, this building signifies our institutional commitment to meeting the workforce needs of our business and industry partners” says CCA’s President Dr. Mordecai Ian Brownlee. Set for completion by summer 2024, the Center will operate on the college’s CentreTech Campus with a projected footprint of close to 55,000 square feet.
The buildings recently developed program plan will designate:
- 6,872 square feet for Diesel Power Mechanic programming,
- 15,768 square feet for Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) courses,
- 5,982 square feet for the Build Strong Academy of Colorado,
- and 9,167 square feet for additional Shared use and Campus Resources.
The project is well underway due to the generous support of the Arapahoe County Commissioners $3.5 million American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) contribution. In addition, Pat Hamill (Chairman and CEO of Oakwood Homes), Bruce Wagner (CEO of Wagner Equipment), and George Eidsness (President of Transwest) have come together as a tri-chair team to commit another $2 million towards the project and have insisted they are just getting started.
Arapahoe County, Board Chair, Nancy Jackson expressed the important role of CCA in the recovery and growth of the communities the institution serves. “CCA has long been a gateway to higher education for the Aurora and East Metro Denver areas and is a fitting beneficiary of ARPA relief funds”, says Jackson. “The pandemic has necessitated the re‐training of large numbers of displaced workers, especially workers of color who have been disproportionally impacted. This project will address the needs of workers and industries alike by helping to create a dynamic new training and educational space for students and industry partners in expanding and forward-looking sectors, which will help CCA prepare even more future workers for career-oriented high-demand jobs.”
CCA’s President Dr. Mordecai Brownlee responds, “Change is within reach when you entrust your educational and professional goals with the Community College of Aurora. The new Center for STEM, Power Mechanics, and Applied Technologies will ensure we are aligning with our mission of providing high quality instruction, and support services to prepare our students for transfer and employment opportunities. CCA is committed to creating opportunities for all.”
Pat Hamill, dubbed “one of the most admired CEOs” by the 2021 Denver Business Journal, says he is committed to ensuring that he gives back to the community that he loves through the pipeline of education. “To ensure that the Centennial state’s workforce is robust in the years to come, it is incumbent upon all of us to make an investment into training the next generation of young workers and that’s what I’m committed to doing” states Hamill.
The decision to get involved was an easy one, says Bruce Wagner, CEO of Wagner Equipment, the Colorado Springs based heavy machinery company. “Ensuring that students have the opportunity to seamlessly walk into high earning career fields upon completion of their schooling is what made this contribution effortless. This will become a reality for thousands of students because of CCA’s new STEM center and I’m proud to be involved.”
Giving back and remembering where one comes from are ideals George Eidsness keeps close to him. At the helm of the family run business, Transwest, headquartered in Brighton, Colorado, Eidsness says, “Good workers are hard to come by this day in age. What better way than to ensure that those who want to learn a new trade, or skill have the resources to do so? CCA has an impressive track record of success and I know I’m sowing into fertile ground.”
The Community College of Aurora anticipates a continued uptick in enrollment with the groundbreaking of the STEM Center set for August/September. As one of the most diverse institutions in the state of Colorado, a federally designated Hispanic and minority serving institution, CCA serves as a gateway to higher education for Aurora and East Denver metropolitan communities.
Bringing together all the key players and stakeholders is John Wolfkill, Executive Director of the Community College of Aurora Foundation, “Great things are happening at CCA” John says. The CCA Foundation, a registered 501(c)(3), is devoted to supporting CCA priorities and providing life-changing opportunities for students. The Foundation provides thousands in scholarship funding for students every semester. Wolfkill says, “We’re making history and there is still an opportunity to get involved.”
The Center for STEM, Power Mechanics, and Applied Technologies will prepare CCA’s students for their focused guided pathways. The new building will offer efficiencies in faculty and courses to produce new, more stackable credentials to meet the evolving needs of the regional workforce. By bringing support services, collaboration spaces, and instruction all under the same roof, CCA looks to simultaneously enhance and modernize the complete student experience.
“The Community College of Aurora is thankful to everyone who has contributed to its capital campaign, particularly our Arapahoe County Commissioners and our tri-chair members,” says President Brownlee. “We must ensure that our presence in the community serves the needs of our community by developing a workforce that our community both needs and deserves.” Brownlee continued.