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Long-awaited renovations are under way at DCTC

Renovation work included the removal of an explosion-proof tank from the auto shop.

The south side of the Dakota County Technical College building has been boarded up, and during the day there is a consistent din coming from the area. It's a bit of a mess, but it's more than a welcome sight and sound to some at the college.

Construction started in early May on Phase I of renovation in the school's transportation and emerging technologies area and work is moving along as planned, said operations director Paul DeMuth.

"This is a really positive thing," said DeMuth.

Dean of Transportation and Technical Careers Mike Opp said he can't but look in at the progress.

"I take time everyday to look through the window," said Opp.

The renovations will include 118,000 sq. ft. of classroom, lab and shop space in the college's transportation and technical careers program areas. DeMuth said the improvements will bring the areas up-to-date with what students will experience in the actual workforce. The renovations will be the first to the area since the building was built in 1973.

"This will be a huge benefit to the students," said DeMuth.

Programs impacted will be auto body collision technology, automotive technician, GM ASEP, heavy construction equipment technology and welding technology. The improvements will eliminate redundancies in specialized equipment needs while using space better.

DeMuth said the renovations will take the already flourishing programs to the next level by advancing the school's ability to provide top-notch education. DeMuth said the renovated areas will prepare students better for what they will find in the workforce.

Opp said the students are excited for the opportunities that lie ahead. He added that some of this year's graduates have expressed disappointment that they won't get to use the new space.

According to the school's website more than 95 percent of graduates from DCTC's transportation and technical careers programs find employment in their field of study within six months.

Along with the shop renovations, the project will include upgrades to electric and air intake systems that have been in place since the building was built. DeMuth said the electric and air system upgrades will clean up $5 million worth of deferred maintenance costs for the school.

The project will be paid for with state bonding funds that the Minnesota Legislature approved in 2012. The first phase is estimated to cost $7.23 million.

In 2014, DCTC will request a second round of bonding to complete the second phase of the project. Demuth said the second phase would include the heavy duty truck area, bathroom renovations and more upgrades to the college's aging core systems.

Some of the programs wrapped up classes a week early in May for the start of construction. Otherwise, DeMuth said students shouldn't feel much impact from the construction.

Emily Zimmer
Emily Zimmer has worked as a staff writer for the Rosemount Town Pages since 2007. She has a degree in journalism from Minnesota State University, Mankato. Outside of work, Emily enjoys running, reading and gardening. You can follow Emily's gardening adventures at the Areavoices blog East of Weedin'
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