Georgia Northwestern Technical College will open the doors to its beautiful new Catoosa County campus off Alabama Highway in the coming weeks, just in time for the fall semester beginning in August.

The new collegiate facility is a 55,000-square-foot building, which will offer students a variety of fields of study.

“It’s an industrial and medical education center,” said school President Pete McDonald. “We’re very excited about the campus opening and we’re looking forward to our fall semester. We think the students are really going to enjoy it.”

The two-story facility includes community rooms, classrooms, tech labs, industrial working area spaces and labs, a library, books store, administrative offices, conference rooms, and faculty offices.

“Our two large industrial labs where the metrotronics education will be, they’re already wired up for everything. We’re just waiting on some of the equipment to be put in,” McDonald said. “Those labs have work tables and components that sit on the tables up against the walls. Some of our equipment is at our other campuses right now. Between the end of summer and the start of our fall semester in August, we’ll be moving all that equipment in here.”

The metrotronics lab also includes a hydraulic pressure crane so instructors can set up problems in the system and then have students attempt to diagnose the problems.

“It will teach them (the students) all the components of a hydraulic system to apply in industry lifting systems and things like that,” McDonald said.

Recently the school hosted a number of area high school seniors on a little preview and walk-through of the campus.

“The high school seniors really liked it,” McDonald said. “They were excited to be able to come over and be the first people to really see the building. It gave them a lot to think about as they look towards college.”

Every room in the building is wired for internet and school network use, and includes projection tools so both instructors and students can sync up in the classroom for presentations and things of that nature.

The school has also gone a long way in helping accommodate every need students may have.

“We have a hangout space or lounge area for students to hangout and have lunch,” McDonald said. “It’s equipped with refrigerators and microwaves so students can make their lunches and things, if they need to, between classes. Our library is also very convenient, because not only does it have books and computer work stations, there are also small rooms available that students can reserve in case they’re working in group projects and things. So they can come in and have a quiet room where four or five people can work on a project together.”

The majority of the rooms on campus are multi-purpose with light, space-efficient furniture, to help if the rooms are needed for meetings, conferences, and other things.

“Everything is light and easy to move if we need to,” McDonald said.

The campus has also put a big emphasis on making sure the school staff is accessible for those looking to enroll.

“We have our advisors, financial aid people, and advisors who deal with special population needs for folks with disabilities and things,” McDonald said. “We have these nice offices if students need to have confidential conversations with their advisors.

The school has a very nice center available for those getting started with their college careers, or for those who are just getting back in school.

“Our testing center is complete with work stations,” McDonald said. “We have entrance testing using products from the SAT company…. We don’t reject people, we just do the testing to see what level our students are at…. Do they need to take college level courses, do they need some learning support courses, or even possibly go back to adult ed level?”

McDonald said a lot of the courses offered at the school deal with a new wave of in-classroom instruction where students work in pairs or groups, which prompted the school’s design to include workstations for such instruction.

“Our courses have a lot of team projects, so some of our tables are designed for team activities so multiple students can work together on projects in the classroom…. It’s a new way of teaching,” McDonald said. “We’ll also have teleconferencing between our campuses.”

The school offers several courses of study so students can achieve technical certificates of completion, diplomas, and degrees in certain fields.

The campus really has a great deal of detail when it comes to its EMT training and nursing.

For the practical nursing and EMT classes, the campus has dual-purpose classrooms with hospital beds, and an ambulance simulator.

“It’ll be the inside of an emergency ambulance,” McDonald said. “It’ll be physically the size of the interior of an ambulance that instructors can use in their teaching to give students a hands on experience.”

The science labs in the school are also state-of-the-art, which will help accommodate the nursing and EMT fields.

“Our biology and chemistry labs are really something,” McDonald said. “Any of our medical programs require specific biology and chemistry classes, and with these labs, we’ll be able to offer that to our students. I think this is one of the nicest labs I’ve seen. Each lab station has its own exhaust system to regulate fumes and things during different experiments.”

McDonald and the whole staff are very excited about the new campus, which has come a long way since ground was first broken at the site in late 2014.

“It’s turned out great and we’re proud of it,” McDonald said. “We think the students will really appreciate it.”

A special grand opening ceremony is slated to take place on Sept. 19, after the fall semester opens.

“We’re having a welcoming kind of event,” McDonald said. “Our board members, elected officials, and everyone will be invited. It’ll give us about a month to get things organized with students and get the semester going.”

For more information about the new Catoosa County campus or Georgia Northwestern Technical College in general, go online at www.gntc.edu.

Adam Cook is a general assignment reporter and covers the Walker-Catoosa County area. He has been a reporter since 2009. He can be reached at The Catoosa County News office at 706-935-2621 and by email at acook@npco.com.