Construction of the Transportation Education Center is now 80 percent complete and within budget.
The center has been in construction for nearly two years and will house the automotive technologies, aviation technologies and flight management programs when completed.
Dave Newmyer, chairman of aviation management and flight and associate professor, said the project has been going seamlessly. He said it should be completed by July 17.
Newmyer and his colleagues said they attribute the project’s success to the contractors and architects.
“We have a great team out there with River City Construction doing the construction and FGM Architecture overseeing the work,” he said.
After the July date, there will be a one to two month move-in and improvement period. After that process, the building should be fully functional by October, Newmyer said.
The center will be home to more than 650 automotive and aviation technology students and employ about 140 people.
The 230,000 square-foot structure was given a $65 million budget by the State of Illinois’ capital development board in December of 2009 when Gov. Pat Quinn approved legislation to stimulate the economy in southern Illinois, said Newmyer.
Newmyer said one aspect of the project’s success is that it has only dipped into less than 5 percent of the contingency money, a fund used specifically for mistakes and changes that are not in the original budget.
“Usually if you are 80 percent done, you are expected to have used 80 percent of your contingency money, so the fact that we have used so little is phenomenal,” he said.
The automotive technologies program is located 16 miles off campus in Carterville. The buildings were established during World War II as temporary ammunition production warehouses.
Mike Behrman, automotive technologies associate professor and chairman, said the facility lacks many necessary features.
“Currently we are in wood buildings with no climate or environmental controls,” he said.
The new transportation center will have hoses, which connect to the exhaust pipes on cars and direct their exhaust outside of the building.
Newmyer said there is no way for the auto technicians to direct the exhaust, so the new facility will be much safer and cleaner.
The new building will also feature an attached test cell and fleet storage garage; both are expected to be completed by the middle of summer.
Newmyer said the test cell, an area used to test an engine’s efficiency, is essential.
“We have been waiting for a test cell since the aviation program began in the ’60s,” he said. “When we work on a engine now, the only way we can test it is in an airplane in the air. This is extremely dangerous seeing as how the engine could self destruct.”
The flight aviation program is currently housed in an 800-square-foot building.
Behrman said bringing all three departments together will allow the faculty, staff and students to interact and work on projects together.
According to the TEC’s website, The SIUC TEC is the ultimate expression of excellence of the university’s automotive and aviation programs, which are among the most widely respected and highly rated in the world.
Behrman said the TEC will finally allow for the appropriate environment to truly teach automotive technology, aviation management and flight and technologies students.
“It’s going to be a proper representation of our industry, who we are and our university,” he said.
Newmyer said the university has been planning this project since 1995.
“Now it is almost done and it is going to be a phenomenal place,” he said.