NCTC construction project on schedule
by David Hill
Completion of Northland Community and Technical College’s $4.7 million hangar, classroom addition and improvements in Thief River Falls is on schedule. Officials said Wednesday, Jan. 6, that construction is expected to be completed by June 30 of 2016.
Jim Retka, dean of Workforce and Economic Development, and Aviation Maintenance Technology at Northland, said it’s amazing that in less than a year contractors could be this far along.
In May of 2015, demolition began on what was called the old Arctic hangar and an older, inefficient part of the airport campus. In fact, 22,000 square feet was demolished.
The new space
There will be 4,000 square feet less now, but it will be much more efficient. Clinton Castle, director of facilities at Northland, said the part that was demolished was the least efficient not only in terms of energy efficiency and maintenance, but usable space, as well.
Castle said collaboration with the college and its students has worked well. There has been no interruptions of classes. It has been a little inconvenient at times, but students are excited about what they are getting.
The new space at the college includes a paint booth, composite shop, clean room, sheet metal lab and storage areas. The new hangar will be able to fit a 50-passenger plane, and a General Atomics Predator. The bi-fold door is 80-feet wide and 20-feet high. The floor of the hangar is 61.5 feet wide and it connects to the Swenson hangar.
Greater flexibility and
The college is looking forward to this new structure. In addition to the substantial savings in energy costs, maintenance it also adds flexibility.
The primary use for the new space is for the unmaned aerial system program, however, traditional airframe and maintenance classes as well as the new imagery analysis program will be taught in the new rooms.
The rooms are also designed to offer modular, flexible learning environments, and could be used for other purposes. They also will be wired for technology so that the college can offer distance learning opportunities.
Since 2014, Northland has been conducting flights in Roseau County under a certificate of authorization to fly small-unmanned aircraft systems. This opened up opportunities in precision agriculture, and the college has seen greater attention to its precision agriculture opportunities, but Retka hinted at other possibilities and a broader future for the program, including industry partnerships, which means these new classrooms could come in handy.
Work to be done and
terrific sub contractors
Don Sollom, site manager for the general contractor, Terra Contracting Services, said he expects the interior of the new addition to be substantially complete sometime in March. When the frost leaves the ground they will finish the exterior, landscaping and expansion of concrete to the tarmac.
Sollom noted that a lot of subcontractors working on the project are from the Thief River Falls area. “All have done a great job,” he said.
Retka added that some of the sub contractors have even been graduates of Northland. He added that
it has been interesting seeing them have an impact on the project.