BREMERTON — It wasn’t the traditional ribbon-cutting, but on Aug. 21, there was no mistaking the grand opening commemoration of Olympic College and Washington State University’s newly remodeled electrical engineering building.
Instead of unrolling a wide, sparkly ribbon and breaking out the ceremonial gigantic scissors, a representative from each partnered college held power cords, connecting them as a symbolic gesture of the partnership that sparked this program in 2009, according to anannouncement of the event from Olympic College.
It started with a mechanical engineering program WSU offered at OC’s Bremerton campus; in 2016, that four-year-degree program was expanded to include electrical engineering. The first students in this program will graduate in May 2018.
Before now, the electrical engineering students and the mechanical engineering students shared the Robert B. Steward Engineering Building on the Bremerton OC campus. Now, the mechanical engineers can have their space back to themselves, because the electrical engineers are moving across the street to the new building, a 5,700-square-foot facility that provides specialized labs, classrooms, offices and storage.
“The opening of this new remodeled facility represents another milestone in our fruitful partnership with Olympic College to serve the changing workforce needs of the greater Puget Sound region,” WSU President Kirk Shulz said. “As a land-grant institution, it’s in our DNA to serve our state.”
OC President Dave Mitchell said, “Our partnership with WSU provides a clear pathway into the workforce for students in the Puget Sound region, many of whom are place bound due to work and family circumstances. I am grateful for leadership at WSU who committed to launching and expanding this excellent program.”
Bremerton is home to several large employers with a high demand for technical workers, according to the OC announcement, including Puget Sound Naval Shipyard & Intermediate Maintenance Facility, “which employs a large workforce of engineers and has expressed a need for skilled engineers, particularly as Baby Boomers retire.”
OC purchased the building — formerly used by CENCOM — from the City of Bremerton. It served as a 911 dispatch office for nearly 30 years beginning in 1976; before that, it was the administration building for the Warren Avenue Bridge. It’s located immediately across Warren Avenue from the OC Bremerton Campus, at 1720 Warren Ave.
“Everyone is thrilled with the new space,” said Shawn Devine, OC director of communications. “It is right sized for the program, has state-of-the-art labs and feels like a new building. It was quite a transformation for a building that has sat empty for several years.”
Devine said that starting in the coming school year, 19 students will be making use of the space: 10 juniors and nine seniors.
“This number will definitely grow over time,” Devine said.
— Michelle Beahm is online editor for Kitsap News Group. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.