CPI debuts Transportation Training Center

Applause echoed through the new Transportation Training Center at the Central Pennsylvania Institute of Science and Technology as Sen. Jake Corman, R-Benner Township, cut the ribbon for the official opening Friday.

Six years in the making, the center made its grand opening Friday afternoon as about 75 school officials, state and local leaders and other members of the public were in attendance.

The training center will support secondary and postsecondary students enrolled in the diesel technology repair, heavy equipment operations, commercial driver’s license and passenger bus operator programs, and will provide classroom space to support the Centre County Public Safety Training Center.

“It’s a tremendous project for us,” said CPI President Richard Makin. “It’s going to provide the skills necessary for individuals to gain employment.”

Ground was broken on the facility in August 2012. Last month, the facility was complete, and classes were able to begin at the center, Makin said.

“It’s exciting to be the first graduating class out of this center,” said Dennis Shaw Jr., 17, of Howard. “This just shows the growth of CPI. It’s not just for kids like me, but other adults looking to get more education later on in life, and this place will help provide that education and training.”

This is Shaw’s third year at CPI studying heavy-equipment operations. He said his goal is to enter into the labor workforce after graduation.

“We’re already getting the training and real-world experience, so I’ll be ready when I’m done,” Shaw said.

Todd Taylor, CPI director of adult and postsecondary education, said the facility will educate about 200 people a year.

Local leaders also said they believed the new center is a way to enhance the local economy.

“Look at the opportunity you have for gainful employment,” said Rep. Kerry Benninghoff, R-Bellefonte. “It’s servicing the entire community and creating an opportunity for continuing education. I’ve seen this project all the way through its first vision. It took a lot of time and hard work, but I’m glad to be a part of seeing it through.”

The facility is a 35,000-square-foot training center that cost about $10.5 million, which was funded through public and private investors, Makin said. It includes a 23,000-square-foot diesel yard and a 12,000-square-foot heavy equipment yard.

Makin added that CPI is looking for additional funding through the Futures in Motion capital campaign, a volunteer-driven effort to raise $4 million in private funding to complete the facility.