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West Campus Breaks Ground on Energy Building

There is a new addition coming to the TJC West Campus for 2014. The new TJC Energy Center will house new classes and programs related to the energy industry. This project was started from a long-time partnership between TJC and a company called Luminant. Luminant is a company that makes power for East Texas, as well as owning and operating several lignite and coalmines throughout Texas.

“We’ve been working with them for a number of years,” said Fred Peters, director of Public Relations and Grant Development. “First, they came to us with a need for a place to train their existing employees on safety and equipment updates as a regular matter of business…They let us know immediately that there was a real need for power plant operators,” said Peters.

Besides being an expansion to the facilities available on site for TJC and Luminant to utilize, the partnership has allowed the development of the first associates degree in power plant technology in the state of Texas. The expansion project will also help relieve an aging workforce in power plant based professions, making the project mutually beneficial for both TJC and Luminant.

The power plant technology program isn’t the only program the Energy Center will provide for students. The proposed new programs include: Ammonia Certification, Biomedical Equipment Repair, Geothermal Technician, Industrial Electrical Maintenance Technician, Mechanical Technician, Process Technology, Robotic and Automated Systems, Solar Technician, and Wind Technician. All of these programs will be “terminal degrees” meaning that students will get either their certificate or associate’s degree and then go right to work. The building will be open for use in the spring of 2015, and after approval of the new programs by the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board and the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, students will be able enroll in the approved programs in the spring of 2015.

The Energy Center will span over 51,000 square feet and will have nine classrooms and a large assembly room.

“There’s a piece of equipment going into the building called a dashboard,” said Michael Martin, Project Manager for RPR Construction. “It has big display screens that monitor the energy usage of the entire building, as well as the A.C. usage,” said Martin. “As far as technology goes, that’s not something that you typically see (in construction).”

Even the outside of the building is going to be constructed with energy conservation in mind.

“One thing that’s different about the building that you don’t see very often is the building envelope (exterior) itself,” said Martin. “Normally you have a metal stud wall with sheathing and either a brick or stone veneer, but in this case the envelope is comprised entirely of two inch thick insulated metal panels, and they exceed our energy requirements.”

The Energy Center project is on schedule and is expected to be completed by Nov. 15, 2014. A groundbreaking ceremony was held on Feb. 19, 2014. TJC President Dr. Mike Metke and Tyler Mayor Barbara Bass were among the speakers at the ceremony.

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