Saturday, September 24, 2011

Mesa, Arizona: East Valley Institute of Technology hopes facility takes aviation program to new heights

Students look over an airplane engine in which they work on in an Aviation Maintenance Technology class being offered on the EVIT East campus, Wednesday, September 21, 2011 in Mesa.
[Tim Hacker/ Tribune] 

From their desks in the third floor classroom at the new East Valley Institute of Technology campus, students can look out and see Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport sprawling out before them. If the automated window shades are not down, they can watch planes land and take off, and dream about one day flying planes of their own, or working on the aircraft, or in the air traffic control tower.

The room is a perfect place to envision a career in aviation and the building it is in represents EVIT’s commitment to take its programs to new heights.

“That building is going to be really valuable and there is a lot more room for more people, so they can have a lot more students that are going to go through the class and it’s going to be crucial for the future,” said Jake Hoskins, a senior at Gilbert’s Highland High School who is in his second year in EVIT’s aviation program. “And that classroom, I like that classroom. It looks just like the inside of an air traffic control tower.

“If the windows were open, I’d be watching all of the planes taking off, the helicopters and other military aircraft since Gateway has so much traffic now.”

The reason EVIT’s aviation program is going to reach new heights is the newly-opened, state-of-the-art East Campus.

Located on 10 acres at Arizona State University’s Polytechnic Campus along Power Road in southeast Mesa, the new EVIT campus features two classroom buildings and a lab building for the school’s aviation program. In all, there is 78,000 square feet of space.

The campus gives EVIT a state-of-the-art facility for aviation technology classes. Students get introduced to all facets of the aviation industry: Piloting, air traffic control, maintenance and repair, as well as flight attendant experience.

“A lot of them think they know what they want when they start; everyone wants to fly,” said Alan Mittelstaedt, EVIT’s director of aviation programs. “In our first-year aviation spectrum course, they get a taste of everything and then in their second year, they can specialize in what they want to do.”

Also, EVIT will offer courses in its popular health sciences program in the new facility, meaning students from the Queen Creek, Combs, Higley and Gilbert school districts won’t have to travel to the main EVIT campus to take courses in that program.

“Health science is our largest program by enrollment. Of our 3,000 students, 1,000 are in that area,” said EVIT spokeswoman Tiffani Nichols. “The biggest thing is we can now really accommodate those students coming from districts in the south East Valley. Some were coming an hour each way on the bus. Now, they get the same programs, much closer to their home school in less time as far as transportation.”

In the two classroom buildings there are 28 classroom or lab areas, five conference rooms, student and staff break rooms and plenty of space available for future expansion as the need arises.

The new facility just went through the final stages of completion, although classes began on time for the 250 students currently taking courses there this semester. The main classroom building was finished first, so both the aviation and health science courses are being taught there.

The majority of unfinished work was in the health sciences building, which houses the 150-seat lecture hall, as well as the student lounge and health science classrooms and labs. EVIT began moving into the health science building on Thursday.

The $17 million facility features some unique energy saving systems. The cooling system is comprised of 12 ice storage tanks. Simply, the system fills the tanks with ice during the off-peak hours and then a fan circulates the cold air from the tanks to cool the buildings during the day.

It also features high efficiency glazing on all of the windows, high efficiency light fixtures and water efficient plumbing fixtures. All of the water produced from condensation in the air conditioning system is collected and used to supply the water feature in the courtyard between the two buildings. And, there are rainwater collection tanks on the building rooftops that will collect and store rainwater to be used in the campus irrigation system.

Also, there is a garden on the third floor of the main classroom building that will be used for educational purposes as an outdoor student lab.

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