New Wintec building open for business
Wintec's $25m engineering and trades facility has now officially been opened by the prime minister - although some students are still getting used to the shift.
The light and bright two-level block is home base for more than 1000 students and 100 staff.
It features open plan spaces, such as the main workshop area with zones such as electrical and automotive, and separate rooms for tasks such as joinery and welding.
There are also learning studios with furniture on wheels, Mac suites for computer-aided design (CAD), meeting rooms and training spaces.
Yesterday a crowd of at least 200 gathered at the Rotokauri campus for the opening, filling the bottom-floor foyer and peering down from the next level to catch sight of John Key.
Chief executive Mark Flowers said he had "no idea so many people were going to turn up to this party" and hoped there was enough food to go around.
Construction on what is being described as New Zealand's most modern engineering and trades education facility started about a year ago, so Flowers said.
He was "really pleased" to see it in use.
"There's a degree of relief too, that we've got to this point. Because it's been quite a long project.
New opportunities for applied learning would be possible over time.
"It really allows [tutors] . . . to do much more of the learning through working on projects rather than just delivering from me to you a lecture like in the olden days, if you like."
He also hoped to see those from industry using Wintec's training spaces for their staff - something which was already happening to an extent.
Prime Minister John Key said Wintec was a "world-class provider" at the forefront of school-tertiary links.
The facility's opening was timely as economic growth meant more skilled tradespeople were needed, he said.
He took a lighthearted approach to his duty of unveiling the plaque, announcing: "Somewhere along the line we'll rip something off something and that'll officially declare the building open."
Many Wintec students are already working in the new building, but some are finding the shift to open plan a challenge.
Electrical engineering student Callum Stachurski, 21, comes to Wintec for block courses and had been in the new building for about nine weeks.
The noise of having several classes working in an open space - instead of separate classrooms - was a downside, he said.
Other electrical engineering students, Grant Ganswick, 19, and Reece Franklin, 20, also found focussing more difficult with multiple tutors in a room.
But Ganswick said "the technology and stuff is pretty good", and Franklin was enjoying the computers on wheels - also known as COWs - and the new suite of Macs.
Stachurski said there was "better wifi".
The move was a big change for both staff and students, Wintec chief executive Mark Flowers said.
Other building features include new simulation software, exposed structures, cables and glass-fronted distribution boards, and wireless and bring-your-own-device facilities. Civil, mechanical and electrical engineering, industrial design, architectural technology, plumbing, gasfitting and automotive trades are all taught.