DOUGLAS — Students and visitors should notice several upgrades to the north side of the Cochise College Douglas campus when summer break is over and it's time to return for the fall semester.
The Aviation Department at Cochise College is under going some renovations this summer. Submitted Photo
"While these programs should be central and showcased on campus, both are separated from the heart of campus," he said. "Many of the art classrooms had poor lighting. In order to get to the aviation administrative and faculty offices, a potential student had to navigate through the south part of the aviation building and through the hangar."
Those are just two of several issues that should be resolved once a few departments are relocated and building renovations are completed.
Art classes and offices that were annexed in the south part of the aviation building have moved to the recently constructed Career and Technical Education building, located next door to the main art building (1900). Plans are in the works to design and construct additional space onto the CTE building, so, eventually, the rest of the art department can move out of the 1900 building and all art classes and offices will be in the same place.
"This area has plenty of space and natural lighting," Butler said of the CTE building. "Adult Education, which was also located in the aviation building, has been relocated to other offices on campus and will use a variety of classrooms on campus. The agriculture programs housed in the CTE Building will be relocated to the rodeo arena and, with a hopeful revamp of the agriculture programs to include more agribusiness and agricultural economics instruction, can utilize several classrooms on campus."
With art and adult education moved out, the aviation building will now contain only aviation activities. Aviation offices will move to the south part of the building, which is the entrance, to offer a more inviting welcome, provide a buffer to the hangar and free up space in the north side of the building for future improvements to one of the fastest growing programs at the campus.
"It's been about 25 years since the last time they did anything with the aviation facilities," said Belinda Burnett, the college's aviation director and chief flight instructor. "With the runway improvement and plan to support the aviation program, some very serious facility space needed to be addressed."
Because of the temporary runway closure, aviation students won't be on campus this summer. That means residence halls are closed for now and will reopen in August.
Besides interior and exterior building improvements, aviation faculty and staff are also working on changes within the department and curriculum. The avionics program will move from the Sierra Vista campus to the Douglas campus, and the initial class offerings for the recently unveiled Unmanned Aerial Systems program should roll out during the second eight-week session this fall.
"The reason for avionics coming down here is two-fold," Burnett said. "One, the program is expanding its curriculum to include and incorporate more UAS training, so they'll be expanding their element of the UAS tech component as we develop the mechanic program with that, and those pieces have to be together. We can't move a UAV back and forth to Sierra Vista every time we want to change who has it for the day. It just makes sense that all of those pieces are here. Second, it strengthens the department umbrella to have everything related to aviation all in one place."
The college's airport runway will close sometime in June and should reopen in mid to late August. Classes will begin Aug. 22, and the aviation department is planning an open house and grand opening in mid-September, though facility upgrades will continue into the near future with a taxiway reconstruction planned within the coming year.
"This is a much more modern approach," Burnett said. "It will be a customer-friendly, student-friendly, faculty-friendly environment that meets 21st century standards."