Students at the Eastland-Fairfield Career & Technical Schools will have access to state-of-the-art facilities with the opening of a new Engineering Technologies Center on campus at 4300 Amalgamated Place in Groveport.
Eastland-Fairfield prepares high school juniors and seniors, as well as adults, for careers in such fields as manufacturing, engineering, technology, medicine and dentistry. Approximately 1,400 students are enrolled in its high school programs, and adult enrollment is about 300, according to Ryan Gasser, Eastland-Fairfield coordinator of communications and marketing.
The school moved its welding, aviation and pre-engineering programs to the new facility to offer expanded capacity in those programs, Superintendent Kimberly Pietsch Miller said during a tour of the building Aug. 9.
The $10.3 million, approximately 43,000-square-foot building was constructed and furnished with a combination of capital project funds, general funds and grant funds – along with donations and partnerships, Treasurer Dawn Lemley said in an email.
Construction began in March 2020. School opened Aug. 12, and an opening ceremony is planned for 3 p.m. Aug. 18.
The school serves 16 districts in Franklin, Fairfield and Pickaway counties with campuses in Groveport and Carroll as well as satellite locations at five associated high schools – Gahanna, Groveport, New Albany, Pickerington North and Reynoldsburg. Among the other partnering districts are Bexley, Canal Winchester, Hamilton and Whitehall.
“Over in the main building, the pre-engineering space and the welding spaces were smaller,” she said. “We have more booths now. We can take more students.
“Aviation was sharing (space), so they just couldn’t have the capacity for all of those simulators. So (we wanted) the space to be able to provide the most real-world experience since we’re doing workforce development. We want to give students the most real-world experience possible.
“The new building expands our capacity for numbers of students but also the experiences that they have.”
The building features a multipurpose space where large groups of students or professional learning programs for adults could be hosted. It also offers multiple administrative offices and four labs to accommodate its programs, with approximately 30 welding booths and about a dozen CNC machines (manufacturing machinery controlled through computer numerical control) and flight simulators.
Miller said Aug. 9 that two airplanes and a larger flight simulator would be moved into the hangar program’s aviation facility.
“I think our students are excited, and our instructors are definitely looking forward to having a new space, an expanded space,” she said. “The programs that are in here are all extremely popular with students.”
Miller said Eastland-Fairfield also plans to offer a mechatronics program – a multidisciplinary field that incorporates mechanical, electrical and robotics skill sets – in the new building beginning with the fall 2022 semester.
“We’re really excited about that type of a new program that we’ll be able to offer to students,” she said. “(Those programs are) not all over the state, so it’ll be kind of a unique offering, but we think it’ll be well-received by our students, as well.”
Gasser said current plans are to have a 35-student capacity when it mechatronics program launches next year.
The welding, aviation and pre-engineering programs can accommodate 31, 17 and 26 students, respectively at the new facility, Gasser said, as well as three to four instructors for those programs and three to six employees on the school’s career-services team.
Another instructor will be added when the mechatronics program begins, he said.
Juniors and first-year seniors for specific programs returned to class Aug. 12, with returning seniors starting Aug. 13, Gasser said. Everyone else returned Aug. 16. First-year seniors are seniors entering their first year, and returning seniors enrolled their junior year.
Gasser said former Superintendent Bonnie Hopkins played a key role in the new building’s construction.
“She was pretty instrumental in the visioning and planning for the building,” he said.
For more information, go to eastland-fairfield.com.