The Saline County Career and Technical Campus measures more than 134,000 square feet. That means that the building is about the size of three football fields.
There are three sections which are divided into A, B, and C. Each section houses a different area of education.
While many things can be learned on the campus, the entire building acts as a laboratory with a focus on education. This even extends to the parts of the building that are usually hidden.
All of the infrastructure is exposed because the students will be working on related projects. The pipes in the ceiling are color-coded with thirteen different colors to inform visitors and students of the different components and uses of the pipes.
Other areas that would normally be hidden in the basement or another, lesser visited part of the building include the boiler room and data center. These are located right off of the main lobby and are visible through thick panes of glass.
Each of the classrooms in the building are laid out in a pod-style. This style consists of a teacher’s office, classroom, and a lab space.
While each classroom is in this style, the size of each of the components varies from room to room. Depending on the intended use of the classroom, the lab may be bigger than the room used for teaching and learning and vice versa.
The advanced manufacturing side of the building, while not completely furnished with equipment just yet, will feature state of the art robotics, pneumatics, megatronics, and plc’s. There will also be a maker’s space that will include desktops, CNC mills, lathes, laser cutters, 3-D and resin printers. This will be available for community members to utilize.
The industrial technology space will be the center for the teaching of pneumatics, motor controls, hydraulics, electrical, crane operation, and more. This space is powered with more energy than most entire buildings.
In most of the classrooms, nothing is permanently pinned-down. Save for some outer-wall accessories, most of the furniture in the rooms can be moved to fit the required learning dynamics of any given day.
There are also separate rooms for the duration of the classes. For instance, there are rooms with different components for one year and two year classes. The two year rooms feature more advanced equipment.
Apart from technologically superior classrooms, the Saline County Career and Technical Campus also has the best professors available. One such instructor, Kevin Hunt, has forty years of experience in cybersecurity.
Hunt is starting SCCT’s networking program and will later give birth to the cybersecurity program that is due to launch in the second year of the campus’s operation.
One of the most interesting aspects of the massive building is the design and layout of the hallways. Most of the hallways are located on the outer borders of the building.
This is to increase insulation efficiency, and also helps any lost visitors or students. All one has to do if they find themselves misplaced is look for natural light and follow the “yellow brick road,” which those familiar to the facility call the bright design on the floor’s carpeting.
The property that SCCT’s building resides on is 29 acres. There are currently 22 acres in utilization with 988 parking spaces available.
The remaining acres will be used for future expansion. Benton School District has purchased the 80 acres around SCCT’s land on which they will construct two new schools
“In the very near future, this will be a hub for education,” said Scott Kuttenkuler, Assistant Vice Chancellor of the location. “Benton is certainly coming this way.”
Along with the natural light, premium led fixtures adorn the entire building. “I always think students are going to jump up and slap them,” Kuttenkuler said. “If they do, it’s okay. Every square inch of this place, inside and out apart from the bathrooms, is covered in cameras.”
One of the more interesting features of the campus is the location’s maintenance plan. Students will be partially responsible for the upkeep of the building’s operating machinery.
“Our students need to know how to clean these,” Kittenkuler said. “That’s what they’re going to be doing.”
Names of inspiration run along the top of the building. These names include people like Carroll Shelby Harry Truman, and Abraham Lincoln. The individuals features on the outside and inside of the building are special not only because of their accomplishments, but because they were able to change the world without a traditional four year degree.
The building’s medical rooms come fully stocked with hospital beds, showers, and sinks for student practice and learning. “There’s a wager on how long ‘till somebody uses the showers when they’re not supposed to,” Kuttenkuler joked.
The slope of the land upon which the building was constructed was thirty feet from one side to the other. Rather than dig up the earth to accommodate the building, architects instead decided to construct the building with the slope included in the design.
Section A is eight feet shorter than Section B which is eight feet shorter than Section C. An express bridge runs across the length of the building that allows travel from the second floor of Section A to the first floor of Section C.
The elevators can also be used to travel throughout the floors, but there is a catch. “An elevator, by law, must travel at least nine feet to open in the same direction,” Kuttenkuler explained. “These are only eight feet, so one floor they open this way and another floor they open that way.”
The campus project was funded from a bond that was passed in 2018 for the citizens of Saline County. The bond taxed citizens $0.37 on $100.
It was projected for the $43.5 million dollar project to take 12 years to pay off. After projections, the forecast was redone and the facility is now due to be payed off in eight years.
“That includes all of the building, site purchasing, drawings, finishes, and a very healthy budget for equipment,” Kuttenkuler elaborated.
The facility features a state of the art welding shop that has eighteen five-by-five welding booths, each with a Lincoln Electric Multiprocessing Welder. Plasma tables will also be coming soon to the welding shops. There are also six virtual simulators and another welding shop with eighteen welding booths in a separate instruction room.
“Power is always an issue,” Kuttenkuler said. “One of the biggest things when you build a place like this is that there isn’t always enough power.”
With the forethought that went into SCCT’s campus, a solution was built in. “In each of the heavy trade spaces, there is an electrical substation,” Kuttenkuler said. “Not only can we get the power that’s needed today, but we can get the power that will be needed five to ten years from now. They can use technologies that people may not even know exists today.”
The automotive section of the building is a bit different from the rest. The architects that were hired to complete this section had previously built over 300 auto garages, and the ones that were constructed at SCCT’s campus are the best ones they have built yet.
Each automotive section features five industrial lifts, a spot to park a car, and rolling doors for vehicle entry. SCCT is currently working with companies for vehicle donations and some have already been purchased for the purpose of learning. On Fridays, students will be allowed to bring in their own vehicles to tinker on.
Of course, without the proper instructors, the impressive equipment would go to waste. “All of our auto instructors are industry guys,” Kuttenkuler said. “We wanted people that would say ‘this is how it really is out in the world.’”
One of the automotive spaces will house a commercial grade alignment machine that will fit up to 12,000 pounds. “This is exactly what they have at a McClardy’s or an Everett’s,” Kuttenkuler said. “When our students leave here they’re going to be very comfortable.”
While SCCT’s teachings are cutting edge, some people don’t agree with their philosophies. “People have told us ‘well, that’s not a teaching classroom,’” Kuttenkuler said. “I’m like ‘well I don’t think you’re getting it. I understand you’ve done well on other things, but they need to learn on what they’re going to be working with.’”
Another component of the building includes 432 full sized lockers. These will be able to store all of the equipment for student use.
While the facility is currently focused on helping high schoolers with their education, much is on the horizon. “We’re going to add community classes,” said Kuttenkuler. “Like one night a week for a couple of hours for four weeks, you can figure out how to just burn a little metal.” The campus also plans to offer college classes on speech, psychology, english, math, and much more.
A 130-yard hallway in the building features eight traditional classrooms that aren’t currently being utilized. “They will allow us to teach normal classes,” Kuttenkuler said.
The Saline County Career and Technical Campus is now open. It is located at 13600 I-30 in Benton.