ATEP finalizes plans for expansion


South Orange County Community College District’s newest college, The Advanced Technology and Education Park is finishing up its first year of classes and looks toward an expanded campus.

Commissioned in 1999, the college is located in Tustin where the marine base once operated and housed military personnel. It is currently comprised of a one -acre temporary facility. Two rows of buildings make up the school and were constructed with “green standards” in mind.

The college could qualify for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, LEED, standards with its buildings made from recycled building parts and environmentally friendly design. In fact, it was built in order to obtain LEED standards.

“[The current campus is] a way for us to offer courses from Saddleback and IVC and to gather the community involved,” said Tere Fluegeman, Director of Public Information and marketing. “Our goal is to have to the entire campus LEED certified.”

However, the district owns 68.73 acres and plans to develop a larger campus on the land. Funding ATEP thus far has mainly come from the basic aid fund, maintained in order to help any one of the schools that needs it. The college plans to build many partnerships with private industries and hopes to gain funding through that, as well.

The trend of partnering with private industry is not specific to ATEP. Many schools now are partnering with businesses in order to help students enter careers more quickly. The way ATEP does differ in this respect, though, is in their partnership with the entertainment industry.

One of ATEP’s specialty programs is design model making and rapid prototyping. Students involved in the program learn how to turn dimensions or a sketch into a 3-D model. This skill is utilized in many industries, but especially in the entertainment industry, said Kathleen Schrader, Dean of math, science and engineering at IVC.

“It’s a course that’s going to have lots of opportunity in it,” Schrader said. “It’s really quite unique.”

In the entertainment industry, design model making and rapid prototyping will be used to create sets for movies and television.

The school has been in negotiations with Camelot studios trying to bring entertainment arts to the campus with the use of technology.

“They are investing a lot of money into this,” Schrader said. Another thing that sets ATEP apart from other colleges is their partnership with the Orange County Sheriff. Their training facility is located down the street from the college and ATEP was approached by them to train sheriffs in radio communications. The program is part of ATEP’s work force development center. The only other site to teach this is located in Idaho.

ATEP also hopes to include satellite campuses of several universities. The satellites will provide an opportunity for students to receive a bachelor’s degree without having to leave ATEP’s campus. Students will have to take some lower division classes at Saddleback or IVC, though.

On only one acre, ATEP already provides 54 classes for approximately 550 students. Plans for developing the other 67 acres are almost complete.

“I think we will have the final plans ready in the next few months,” Fluegeman said. “We’re 90 percent there in negotiations. Negotiations should be done in the summer.”