ENID, Okla. — With the purchase of the former Zaloudek's Marine property, Autry Technology Center expanded its footprint by four acres, its facilities by 30,000 square feet, and the CareerTech school is preparing to put it all to use.

Based on input from area businesses, Autry is creating a pair of new programs, and the off-campus address, 1802 N. Van Buren, will serve as the site.

"One of our main priorities is to find new and innovative ways to better serve our business and industry partners in the community," Autry Superintendent Brady McCullough said.

Autry announced in July it was purchasing Zaloudek Marine, at the same time the owners announced they would be closing the longtime boat shop, but the school didn't take possession of the property until mid-September.

Autry plans to have an industrial maintenance program and an aviation maintenance training course up and running on location, by late spring or early summer 2020, the school said.

"The nice thing about the Zaloudek property is it already has the infrastructure for both a classroom setting as well as a shop setting with the different facilities they had there," Mandy Mayberry, director of communications, said.

Some minor renovations and modifications are necessary to house and support the two courses, and those already area underway.

"We are committed to meeting the workforce needs of the future," McCullough said. "This new property is a great addition to Autry Technology Center, and we are looking forward to new training opportunities that impact not only Enid, but all of northwest Oklahoma."

The aviation maintenance program is being created, at least in part, to "help address a forecasted workforce shortage at Vance Air Force Base," McCullough said. The curriculum still is being developed, but the outline available now promises that students will be trained up to industry standards for entry-level work in the aviation industry.

Industrial maintenance will teach those enrolled how to keep industrial machinery in good working order.

"These technicians ensure all machines function properly through troubleshooting and preventative maintenance service," McCullough said.

New programs are coming to Autry's main campus as well, but only after a critical, soon-to-be-bid, remodeling project.

Additions include a computer numerical control (CNC) machine tool program, a diesel technology program and a "fab lab," the school said.

CNC machinists make highly precise metal or plastic parts and components using computer programming and equipment like lathes, milling machines and milling centers.

The diesel technology program is returning to Autry after an absence, due to increasing demand from businesses. In this course, students specialize in the repair and maintenance of diesel machines and diesel-operated machinery.

The fab lab isn't meant for any specific program, but will serve as a maker space "focused on prototyping and new technology in the manufacturing and mixed reality spaces to complement existing business and entrepreneurial services."

According to Autry, the fab lab also will be open to the public.

It will be a wait of several years before the lab opens its doors, and before students will be enrolling in the CNC or diesel tech programs, however.

“We plan to offer the new programs to the public in the fall of 2022,” said Mayberry. “The new opportunities will allow us to meet the needs of our industry partners by filling our community workforce with qualified workers.”

Bid proposals for the necessary renovations will be presented to the Autry Tech Board of Education at the next regularly scheduled board meeting Monday, Nov. 4.

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Willetts is education and city reporter for the Enid News & Eagle.
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