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									                                                                            News Release


CONTACT: Della Elliott, Public Information, (619) 644-7690; della.elliott@gcccd.net


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                            March 8, 2005


                                  AT A GLANCE
    WHAT: Grand opening ceremony of Cuyamaca College Automotive Technology
    Complex
    WHERE: Cuyamaca College, 900 Rancho San Diego Parkway in Rancho San Diego
    WHEN: 4:30 p.m. Thursday, March 10, 2005
    PARKING: Free in Lot 4 off Cuyamaca College Drive West



     Cuyamaca College revved up for
    grand opening of auto tech complex
        EL CAJON – An unveiling set for Thursday at Cuyamaca College has the campus, and
especially the auto tech department, geared up for a ceremony that, besides the usual speeches, ribbon-
cutting and finger foods, also features a surprise combining music, checkered flags and fast cars.
        Like automakers revved up to introduce their latest line of cars, Jim Custeau and the rest of the
auto technology faculty are eagerly anticipating the 4:30 p.m. March 10 grand opening of the Cuyamaca
College ATC. In addition to the on- and off-campus communities, dignitaries and construction and
design representatives, the college has also invited people from the local auto industry to get a gander at
the college’s first Prop. R facility.
        The $207 million local bond measure approved by voters in 2002 is helping to pay for several
major capital improvement projects at both Cuyamaca and Grossmont colleges, where bulging
enrollments have created building shortages, and aging facilities are in need of repair.
        “This is a milestone for Cuyamaca College and the district,” said Chancellor Omero Suarez. “To
borrow a phrase from TV, we welcome people to come out and see for themselves the extreme makeover
the college is currently undergoing, thanks to the support of voters. The combination of Prop. R dollars
and state bonds allows the district to build and update facilities to meet the needs of current and future
students.”
        The auto technology complex, built a quarter century ago, underwent a $2.8 million renovation
that began last June and expanded the facility from its previous size of 17,000 square to nearly 23,000.
The revamped facility was designed by architect NTD Stichler. Included among the new amenities are:
                 An automotive electronics testing lab
                 Heavy equipment lab
                 “Smart” lecture rooms with high-tech communication tools
                 Computer lab with state-of-the-art automotive diagnostic equipment
                 New faculty offices
                 Upgraded electronic security
        “This was a major remodeling project and a significant investment in our students and our
  community. Considering the benefit of the program to students, the college and local industry, these
  were dollars well spent,” said Dr. Geraldine M. Perri, college president. “These next few years will be
  an exciting period for Cuyamaca College with a number of much-needed facilities reaching fruition to
  accommodate our students and to serve East County more comprehensively.”
        No sooner will Thursday’s first public showing of the ATC be held than the college will prepare
  for a groundbreaking ceremony March 31 for a $19.1 million science and technology mall targeted for
  completion in summer 2006. At Grossmont College, where the Learning and Technology Resource
  Center opened last June to students, construction is set to begin later this spring for a new science
  building.
        Jim Custeau, coordinator of the automotive technology program, said investing in the auto tech
  complex makes a lot of sense for the college because of industry demand for the program’s training and
  the benefit to the approximately 300 students enrolled in the program each semester. Cuyamaca College
  has training partnerships with local Ford and General Motors dealerships which help make the auto tech
  program one of the nation’s best.
        The months of construction that forced the temporary relocation of classes and the seemingly
  endless moving of vehicle equipment and parts were difficult to endure, Custeau said, but the end result
  exceeded everyone’s expectations. He said the remodeled facility reflects careful planning with a lot of
  input from instructors to ensure the building’s usefulness for many years to come. Classroom upgrades
  such as the drop-down projection screens and universal Internet access were lobbied for by instructors,
  who were involved in the planning of the remodeled complex for the past two years.
        “The No. 1 benefit from the construction is probably the high-technology access that we now
  have with the addition of the computer lab and the state-of-the-art diagnostic and training software
  we’re now able to use,” Custeau said. “We have 24 high-speed computers in our lab with flat-screen
  panels compared to the one 10-year-old computer we had before that wasn’t even able to handle
  Windows Xp.”



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      Custeau’s own favorite feature of the remodeled complex is decidedly low-tech, but greatly
needed, nonetheless: a covered storage area for transmissions and engines and a new forklift so the
equipment could be easily accessed. Before, the equipment was left outdoors and covered with tarp for
protection from the elements.
      Additionally, the auto shop bays are larger to accommodate the repair equipment added to the
program over the years. Aesthetic improvements include concrete flooring that replaced the asphalt in
the shop areas, in addition to the new electric rollup doors and a new cantilever roof that provides
outdoor shade.
      For students like Zaneta “Z” Vasquez, it’s the little things that matter, such as the more
comfortable seating and natural lighting of the classrooms, illuminated by special skylights with
adjustable apertures.
      “When you’re uncomfortable in the classroom, you don’t learn as well,” Vasquez pointed out.
      Originally designed to house the auto tech program and a major appliance repair program, which
never got off the ground, the complex had its quirks that made it less than ideal for instructional use.
With the remodeling, the sloped floors with drains and lack of air-conditioning are no more.
      Nat Jagers, who first began taking auto tech classes because of a general interest in cars, said the
program provides a broad base of knowledge that can be applied to other disciplines.
      “I was surprised with the amount of stuff you learn about electronics and now, with the
computers, we’ll be learning even more technical stuff,” he said. “They say your average car today has
more onboard computer components than the first Apollo spaceship so you know fixing cars is a lot
more complicated than it used to be.”
      The facility improvements, the students say, will mean they’ll be better trained and that much
more prepared for the future.
      For more information about the auto tech program, go to www.cuyamaca.edu, or call (619) 660-
4334. Cuyamaca College is at 900 Rancho San Diego Parkway in Rancho San Diego.




                 Intergovernmental Relations, Economic Development, and Public Information

      8800 Grossmont College Drive El Cajon, CA 92020-1799 Phone 619-644-7573 Fax 619-644-7924



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