Abingdon, VA – The first new academic building in 30 years is taking shape on the campus of Virginia Highlands Community College and is expected to open this fall.

1 New Advanced Technology and Workforce Development Center

Virginia Highlands Community College’s Diesel Technology program will call this building its home until the fall semester.

Emily Ball Bristol Herald Courier

The $8.5 million Paramont Applied Technology and Workforce Center will become home to the school’s welding program, diesel training program and its workforce development division. The single-story, brick structure is being built by Burville Construction on a hill near the Southwest Virginia Higher Education Center.

4 New Advanced Technology and Workforce Development Center

Burville Construction Superintendent Kevin Wood. Laura Pennington, left, and VHCC vice president of institutional advancement, talk inside the welding section of the new Advanced Technology and Workforce Development Center.

Emily Ball Bristol Herald Courier

“Both the diesel program and welding program are currently offsite. is in diesel [county’s] Old school bus garage. We implement it and our faculty implement it,” said Laura Pennington, vice president for institutional advancement. “The welding program is currently housed in the Small Business Incubator. It’s a great lab space, but it’s small.

“This building will be a game-changer for both programs because this space is set up for learning. We will be able to grow,” Pennington said. “We will almost double the seat capacity in both programs and these are programs where students get jobs even before they finish.”

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3 New Advanced Technology and Workforce Development Center

Construction is underway for the future home of Virginia Highlands Community College’s welding and diesel technology program. School officials say it will be ready for the fall semester.

Emily Ball Bristol Herald Courier

The left portion of the 20,000-square-foot building will be dedicated to the welding program with instructional space and space for 13 welding laboratories. On the right side will be the diesel program, which includes four large bays capable of accommodating larger trucks, an equipment storage area and separate engine testing space.

Pennington said most students choose the one-year option for each program, but there is interest in expanding both to full associate degree status.

“With that academic foundation, students can transfer to a Bachelor of Industrial Technology degree [Virginia] Take. They’re trying to create mid-level managers,” she said.

The rear of the building will provide space for the college’s workforce development program.

Both programs operate day and night. The welding program currently consists of 16 day students and 16 night students. Diesel has 18 students in both day and night classes and hopes to double the numbers for both programs.

“Our workforce development and customized training division will also have a true home,” Pennington said. “They help small business developers start and create new businesses, expand businesses and they do a lot of customized training for manufacturers and other companies in the area.”

There are also a range of short-term credentials that people can earn.

“They’re all together and these businesses and industries come and go, I think there will be a lot of cross-pollination, so students here or employees of these businesses with some of these credentials will have more value,” Pennington said. can add.”

2 New Advanced Technology and Workforce Development Center

Roy Woods of Air Movers works on the HVAC system inside the new Advanced Technology and Workforce Development Center coming to the VHCC campus.

Emily Ball Bristol Herald Courier

Fundraising for the building is almost complete, but the college and the VHCC Foundation are still seeking approximately $406,000 to fully fund the project.

Funds have already come from Paramont Manufacturing, the Virginia Tobacco Region Revitalization Commission, the Zenon Foundation, the Wellspring Foundation, the United Companies Foundation and private donors.

dmcgee@bristolnews.com , Twitter: @DMcGeeBHC

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