BBCC Workforce Education Center Opens

building hallway
Signs provide direction in the new Workforce Education Center on the Big Bend campus.

By Cheryl Schweizer

MOSES LAKE — Moving day is always stressful, and even more so when construction crews are still working on the new digs.

Monday was the first day of winter quarter classes at Big Bend Community College and the first day of class at BBCC’s new Workforce Education Center. Since it was the first day, industrial systems technology instructor James Ayers was laying out the expectations for the class. His review was punctuated with the sounds of construction in the adjoining shop.

The new workforce ed center replaces a gaggle of individual buildings that housed the welding, automotive, agriculture and industrial systems technology programs. Some classes started meeting in the new building near the end of the fall quarter, but Monday was the first day for most programs.

Students were making their way to the classrooms, most of which were in use. Finish work was still going on in some of the shop areas.

Gas lines in the Welding Lab at the Workforce Education Center.
Students in the Industrial Systems Technology program fill out paperwork during the first day of classes in the new Workforce Education Center at Big bend.

Construction workers were getting ready to run a test on the gas lines in the welding shop Monday morning to ensure the lines were free of debris. While the shop still needed a few tweaks, even without the tweaks it was clear it was an upgrade over the old shop.

The old welding shop dated back to the days when BBCC was Larson Air Force Base and was repurposed from another use. The new shop has a lot more welding booths and a lot more room for specific tasks.

Flux core welding produces a good deal of smoke, and as a result, it had to be done outside of the old shop, said a student assistant who gave his name as Kevin. The ventilation system in the new shop eliminates the need for welding outdoors in the winter. Another form of welding requires surroundings free of dust, and the new shop’s “clean room” is designed to make that work and that training easier. The new shop also has more space for tasks such as metal fabrication and preparation, Kevin said.

The building was designed to change as the training needed by industry changes – and it is changing. Ayers told his students the industrial systems technology curriculum is being revised to take into account new practices and new standards in the industry.

Big Bend officials are still raising money through the Big Bend Community College Foundation for the building’s second floor, which, when it’s finished, will house the BBCC computer science program. The goal is to complete the fundraising drive during the spring.

Cheryl Schweizer can be reached via email at

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