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TSTC Celebrates Engineering Center Grand Opening, SpawGlass Donation

Wednesday, June 25, 2014
By Eladio Jaimez

TSTC Engineering Center Grand OpeningTexas State Technical College's administration celebrated the grand opening of the Engineering Center, a LEED Gold Certified candidate, and industry partner SpawGlass presented a check worth $20,000 for scholarships on Wednesday in front of large crowd comprised of area business and civic leaders along with students, faculty and staff.

TSTC Interim President Stella Garcia listed the building's green features and thanked longtime industry partners like SpawGlass and Duke Energy for being present at the opening.

"We have much to celebrate today," Garcia said. "It's a win-win for TSTC, the state and current and future students."

The building, which opened in January for the Spring Semester, features reclaimed wood from the demolished Harlingen Air Force Base barracks that was milled and finished by TSTC's Building Construction Students and carpenters and installed by SpawGlass contractors.

Other green features include solar panels and water efficient plumbing. Also 95 percent of construction waste was diverted from the landfill.

These are credits that will help the Engineering Center receive LEED Gold Certification, a very high ranking for excellence in energy and environmental design. If attained, it'll be the second building on campus with the distinction.

"We are very proud of this building," Garcia said. "We're on track for LEED Gold Certification and are confident we will get it. Just like we did with the University Center two years ago."

As part of the celebration, SpawGlass President for the South Texas Region Rene Capistran was on hand to make the check presentation. SpawGlass was tasked with the building construction but Capistran said the company was vested beyond the brick and mortar aspect.

"This building is a critical link between industry and education," said Capistran, who also serves on the TSTC Foundation Board. "Year after year, TSTC fills those gaps and they have done a great job. No one provides a better return on investment than TSTC. As an industry partner, I understand the value industry brings. TSTC offers a great product. Students gain skills that are in growing demand in today's global economy and industry are recipients of a well-trained workforce."

TSTC Chancellor Mike Reeser thanked the past leadership for their efforts that made buildings like the Engineering Center possible today.

"TSTC is a special place," Reeser said. "If you tour TSTC, you'll be touched by the passion of every students and faculty member here. And this building is an example of that passion and commitment. I'm proud to be a member of this team during a time when we can show those tangibles like this building. Thank you to those who helped us. Thank you to those that came before us. Thank you faculty and staff and welcome to the students we're going to serve through this building."

Engineering Division Director Hector Yanez said that currently only the Biomedical Equipment Technology, Mechatronics Technology, Telecommunications Technology and Wind Energy and Turbine Technology Programs are housed in the new building. But that the rest of the division would soon move in as part of Phase II of the building process.

The building features Flexible Labs, or laboratories that are shared or transferrable between students from different programs on a semester by semester basis. This is a feature that is saving the college and taxpayers money.

"We're able to increase our recruitment efforts thanks to this building," Yanez said. "Goal is to make this the epicenter of technology and the go to place in the Valley and it's already happening."

The original building has been around since the late 1940's when it served as a hangar for the Harlingen Air Force Base. In the 1980s, it became a metal door manufacturing company. The building was later purchased by Lockheed-Martin, a defense contractor that built rocket engines for shuttles until the mid-1990's. Four years ago, TSTC purchased the building and used it as storage for surplus materials.

The year-long construction project is part of the TSTC 2010-2020 Master Plan.

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