RIVER FALLS, WI – Motorists cruising along Highway 35/65 may notice a new gracefully curving front of the building taking shape as the summer progresses at the Chippewa Valley Technical College River Falls campus.
A new entryway leading to an expanded student commons area is one of the features of the $1.7 million project.
Construction managers say current building access and space problems will all be over by the time fall semester classes start in August, when the expanded facility will be ready to take on a larger role in the community.
“We saw an increased need for student academic services, and we were outgrowing our current spaces,” said Shelly Olson, executive dean of health, emergency services and River Falls campus. “This project is also going to expand technology for conducting classes between our Eau Claire and River Falls campuses and give us the potential to add programming.”
New programs, new needs
The addition of new programming recently helped create the need for additional space. In the last couple of years, CVTC has added manufacturing programs to its offerings at the River Falls campus. In 2016-17, ElectroMechanical Maintenance Technician was added. The program consists if the first year of the two-year Automation Engineering Technology associate degree program. In 2017-18 CVTC added Mechanical Design at the both the River Falls and Eau Claire campuses.
The project adds 7,200 sq.-ft. to the 20,000 sq.-ft. existing facility at 500 S. Wasson Lane, plus remodeling of 4,700 sq.-ft. of the original building.
Olson said once the dust settles, the River Falls campus will be in better shape to serve the western side of the CVTC district and the wider community.
“We’re seeing an uptick in interest from our area high schools as they better understand our offerings,” she said. “We have the potential to add new programming, like an expansion of the Mechanical Design program that started last August. We will have more computer availability for students, and three new classrooms, including a multi-disciplinary room that can be flipped for a lab or a traditional classroom.”
The project will result in more computer availability for students and an updated student assessment area, Olson said. “And our telepresence with the Eau Claire campus will be better, with a room we can actually fit in,” Olson added.
“The project and the partnership with the recently-opened St. Croix Valley Business Incubation Center, is part of an overall effort by CVTC to meet the workforce needs of the region,” said Tom Huffcutt, CVTC vice president of operations. “We continually assess the needs of the River Falls community and the surrounding area and respond to those needs.”