New AWC Engineering Building Unveiled
BY SARAH WOMER – @YSSARAHWOMER
The new Engineering Technology building at Arizona Western College’s
main campus was recently unveiled to the community, allowing for the
public to tour the inner-workings of the high-tech facility.
The grand opening of the first phase of the AWC and University of
Arizona building was celebrated Tuesday and is expected to not only be
a boon to local undergraduate students pursuing a degree in
engineering, but also to graduate students and current engineers
employed through the Yuma Proving Ground.
Funded through a $6 million STEM Futures Grant, the dollars awarded to AWC developed a five-year
cooperative partnership with UA to offer a Bachelor of Science degree in systems engineering entirely from
the Yuma campus by 2016.
As it stands, students can enroll in the systems engineering degree program by taking two years of classes at
AWC, one year at UA-Yuma and the final year at UA’s main campus in Tucson.
James Jones, director of the STEM Futures Grant, said that he is hopeful that other engineering degrees will
also be offered from the Yuma campus in the future as the program grows.
YPG Commander Col. Reed Young said that of the 2,500 employees at the facilities, a program like this would
allow for more students to be educated locally, who can in turn go on to work in advanced STEM areas that
require high-tech skills locally.
Young said, “There’s a very distinct member of the population that are homegrown, which are local Yumans
that maybe go off to other universities, worldwide even, but have a very strong desire to come back to Yuma
and stay here. What a great opportunity to build our own program here and have a local university that can
even further its ability to fill some of those positions and train some of those people.”
He added that continuing education through the AWC/UA facilities will be key to the development of the
workforce at YPG.
The first phase of the facility, formerly the old Student Services building located on the north side of AWC’s
campus, includes: 13 faculty and staff offices, a conference room, a display gallery, an Interactive Television
Network (ITN) classroom, an engineering class and lab, equipment storage areas and a student activities
area. The second phase of the project expected to be completed next year will include: another ITN
classroom, an assembly and electronic lab and a student coordination and innovation room. The third and
final phase of the project, which is expected to equal 17,800 square feet when completed in three years, will
include: two high bay labs, classrooms and an outdoor testing area.
Larry Head, chairman of UA’s Systems and Industrial Engineering department, said that the UA is very proud
to be a partner in furthering the opportunities for engineering education in Arizona.
He said that the partnership has allowed for Tucson courses to be watched by Yuma students via ITN
classes, and vice versa, as well as the ability for students from both campuses to collaborate on projects.10/16/13 Print Article: NewAWC engineering bldg. unveiled
Head also noted that Yuma students have a great advantage to take math and physics courses, for example,
in a class of 24 students as opposed to the sometimes 300-person classes at the university in Tucson.
Recent AWC/UA systems engineering graduate Savanna Silva said that while spending the final year of the
program in Tuscon allowed for great opportunities, it also put a strain on her relationship with her husband
who was living back home in Yuma.
“This facility will afford students the opportunity to learn and grow together as I did in Tuscon with my peers.
Not only that but to provide the necessary tools to succeed in the environment into which to succeed in,” she
said. “Being closer to home for these students will not only alleviate a majority of the living expenses, but will
hopefully also encourage these wonderful students and future graduates hopefully of UA to stay and apply
their skills in Yuma.”
Silva is doing just that and is currently employed through Trax International at YPG.
Current AWC sophomore and Engineering Club president, Avinash Tiwari said, “Having this engineering
building started and functioning is just like having all of the engineering minds at AWC under one roof. It helps
us to get access to our professors, it helps us get access to an area where we can study as a group, have
our weekly (club) meetings and work as a team