Carrie Rengers

Wichita Area Technical College to open another campus

These four illustrations show what’s planned for the Wichita Area Technical College at its new campus that will open next year at the Wichita Mall.
These four illustrations show what’s planned for the Wichita Area Technical College at its new campus that will open next year at the Wichita Mall. Courtesy photo

Wichita Area Technical College is planning to open another campus.

“We’ve just had some really great opportunities this year to move some locations,” says president Sheree Utash.

The latest is at Max Cole’s Wichita Mall at 3985 E. Harry. WATC will take 80,000 square feet next to where Wichita State University just opened a media arts department in 35,000 square feet.

“We are kind of teaming up with WSU on that facility,” Utash says. She says the affiliation will help “provide students that more seamless pathway from a two-year degree to a four-year degree.”

It’s something WATC and WSU are already doing in 254,000 square feet at the National Center for Aviation Training at 4004 N. Webb Road and are about to do next month in 53,000 square feet of former Airbus space in Old Town, where they plan a simulation hospital.

WSU is moving its physical therapy and physician assistant programs there.

WATC is moving most of its health-related classes from the South Side Center at 47th and South Oliver to the Old Town campus. That includes its nursing classes, short-term health classes and patient-care technician classes and surgery technology classes.

The school has 100,000 square feet at the south campus, where it has a lease until August 2018.

In May or June, all the programs that haven’t moved to the Old Town campus will move to the Wichita Mall.

The new space will have a full student services area, including advising and career services. There also will be a library and bookstore. There will be natural science classes, an interior design program, developmental education in math and English, a veterinarian technician program, a police science program, an EMT and paramedic program, a massage therapy program and media arts. There also will be general classes such as English, math and psychology.

“We call them our Shocker pathway classes,” Utash says.

WATC also has another campus behind East High School for programs related to automotive service and collision, IT, climate and energy control, industrial automation and welding and engineering design.

“The beauty of this is you’re kind of creating facilities by discipline, and that’s kind of a great thing,” Utash says.

WSU is in the former MindFire Academy space at the Wichita Mall, and WATC will be adjacent to it.

“We’re making the move for a couple of reasons,” Utash says.

“We like the idea of being a little closer into the middle of the city,” she says. “We think it has better access for students as far as public transportation, and a lot of our students take the bus.”

Also, she says Cole “is working with us to create some really dynamic, incredibly renovated, up-to-date space.”

“I’m just thrilled to have them,” Cole says. “It’s going to be great for that side of town.”

For a time, Cole had Office This, an office-sharing space, at the Wichita Mall. Though the complex became known as Office This for a time, Cole says he’s never stopped calling it the Wichita Mall.

Utash says WATC will have its own known name within the mall.

“We don’t have a name yet,” she says, “but it won’t be called the old mall.”

Carrie Rengers: 316-268-6340, @CarrieRengers