College expansion projects on track for Fort Bend County

Fort Bend Countyu2019s educational opportunities are growing along with its population.

Fort Bend Countyu2019s educational opportunities are growing along with its population.

Fort Bend County’s educational opportunities are growing along with its population. The University of Houston-Sugar Land, Houston Community College and Texas State Technical College are all building or planning new structures for the area, starting with a new TSTC campus opening in Rosenberg in the fall.

HCC will open its Missouri City campus on Texas Parkway in 2017, followed by UH-Sugar Land’s new academic building in the 2018-19 school year.

“We anecdotally hear a lot about the presence of higher education being an important asset to the community,” said Jennifer May, director of economic development for Sugar Land. “The higher education workforce opportunities that it offers are most important.”

College expansion projects on track for Fort Bend County Texas State Technical College, University of Houston-Sugar Land and Houston Community College are all expanding in Fort Bend County.[/caption]

UH-Sugar Land and HCC officials said they hope to bring more course options while TSTC leaders said they aim to capitalize on what it sees as a greater need for technically skilled workers in the county. Fort Bend County had a 22.4 percent population increase from 585,375 people to 716,087 people between April 2010 and July 2015, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

“Fort Bend County has enough people all on its own, without even considering Houston, to support a TSTC [campus],” said Randy Wooten, vice chancellor and chief execution officer of the new campus. “A population to support, an industry base to support us is not really the issue.”


Classes at TSTC’s upcoming $40 million Rosenberg campus are scheduled to start Aug. 29. A 125,000-square-foot building—Phase 1 of the project—will open off Hwy. 59 and will support up to 700 students, Wooten said.

Welding, precision machining, cybersecurity, HVAC, industrial maintenance and telecommunications convergence courses will be offered. The school hired about 12 faculty members for the new campus and is looking to double that, he said.

College expansion projects on track for Fort Bend County

“The reason those programs were selected for this area is because they’re in demand,” Wooten said.

Phase 2 includes a second building, named the Brazos Center and will open in 2017. It will measure 50,000 square feet and house programs for electrical power and controls; occupational safety and environmental compliance; mechatronics; and electrical line work.

John Kennedy, field development officer for the campus, said most students at TSTC’s new Rosenberg campus will come from a 25-mile radius, and school leaders expect graduates will work within 30 to 40 miles of the school after graduation.

A 2008 study by Waco-based analysts The Perryman Group determined the annual economic effect in Texas of a typical TSTC graduating class was $485.7 million in gross product dollars, $311.5 million in personal income and 5,689 permanent jobs.

“When our graduates go across the stage, around 80 percent of them either have jobs or job offers,” Wooten said.

Fort Bend ISD trustee K.P. George said he expects the new campuses and expansions to offer greater technical education and dual-credit enrollment options to the district.

“Now we are communicating with Wharton [County Junior College] and we are communicating with HCC, and I believe we are communicating with the technical center,” he said.


College expansion projects on track for Fort Bend CountyHCC’s $21.5 million, nearly 70,000-square-foot Missouri City campus will focus on entrepreneurship, technology and health care, according to HCC Southwest President Madeline Burillo. Core classes for math, English, government, chemistry and biology will also be available.

“That ever-growing public safety and health care arena [is] where there’s a continual demand for new technology or customer service or high responsiveness from law enforcement from public life safety,” Burillo said.

The new campus’s health care program will be supported by HCC’s Coleman College and Center of Excellence in Health Science, located in Houston, Burillo said.

The building is on track to open in the fall of 2017. Crews have begun the building pad excavation, detention pond excavation, spread footing operations and site utility operations, Burillo said.

“Giving these dual-credit opportunities is going to make these students think about the future,” George said. “There’s so many programs out there, [and] these students can come out and make a living right away.”

UH-Sugar Land

It will be at least two years until UH-Sugar Land opens a new 150,000-square-foot academic building at its site near the corner of University Boulevard and Hwy. 59. The $54 million expansion will allow the university to expand on-site course options for the College of Technology and the College of Education.

Both colleges already offer some courses at the Sugar Land campus and UH-Victoria will move its programs to a new UH campus in Katy.

Robert McPherson, UH-Sugar Land interim associate provost for academic affairs and operations, said the Fort Bend Economic Development Council recommended the school add more technology classes at the site.

“In the end, I think we’ll see some programs and some engineering faculty on this campus,” he said.

Plans include an exhibit hall in the new building and a water feature made out of water retention channels on-site. No designs are finalized. UH-Sugar Land has about 5,000 students, and McPherson expects the campus to be able to support up to 8,000 students upon full build-out. A second building, also 150,000 square feet, is planned after the first building opens in the 2018-19 school year.

The southwest corner of the property is proposed for public-private partnerships, McPherson said. Fluor Corp. gave the school $1 million to create the Fluor-UH Industrial Construction Management Education Partnership for research and professional development.

“Each of those partnerships will probably be very unique and specific to who the partner is,” he said.