More than three years after Chaparral Ice Center closed its North Austin location on I-35, a higher education institution has moved in.
Birmingham, Alabama-based Education Corporation of America owns Virginia College and finished renovating the ice rink in 2012. Initial plans were to create a second location of ECA’s Ecotech Institute to train students in environmental programs, but those plans did not materialize. Instead, ECA chose to use the space for the Austin campus of Virginia College when its lease ended at 6301 E. Hwy. 290, campus President Harvey Giblin said.
“It was a business decision not to be Ecotech Institute,” Giblin said. “Our lease was up, and we needed a facility.”
The campus moved in April to the new site, which uses mostly solar panels and wind turbines to power the 43,375-square-foot campus.
Giblin said the facility used recycled materials, including concrete and tiles, in the $8.4 million renovation. Virginia College signed a 15-year lease on the site.
The campus includes several lab spaces where students learn skills for a career in the medical field. A $120,000 3G SimMan mannequin allows students to practice tasks such as taking a pulse, drawing blood and inserting tubes. The campus also has an automated dispensing system where students learn to create IV bags and dispense medications, Giblin said.
About 85 percent of all Virginia College students pursue a degree in one of the college’s medical programs, such as diagnostic medical sonography, medical assistant or surgical technician, Giblin said. The Austin campus has about 600 students.
“We only have programs where we’ve identified a need,” he said.
In Austin that need is across the board but Giblin cited digital medical sonographers and respiratory therapy as two of the highest needs.
The campus will host a grand opening celebration June 4 from 5-7 p.m. For more information call 512-371-3500 or visit www.vc.edu.