P.J. Butta, the Instructor for RTV11A Radio Production Class, teaches his class in the new Media Room in the new Design Technology Center, during the Dedication & Open House Event, at Mt. San Antonio College in Walnut, Friday, April 12, 2013. (Correspondent Photo by James Carbone)
Mayor Mary Su calls Mt. San Antonio College “UC Walnut.”
Of course, no two-year school can match the prestige of the University of California. But with the opening of Mt. SAC’s new $24.5 million Design Technology Center, Su’s rallying cry – enthusiastically shouted at the dedication ceremony Friday afternoon – may not be so far-fetched.
In terms of facilities, the red brick facade gives it that look of a USC building or UCLA’s stately edifices. The concept involving integrating architecture, interior design, graphic arts, photography, radio and TV production and animation in one, two-level, 63,000 square-foot building gives students the ability to work across related disciplines – a cutting edge learning mode that goes beyond what’s practiced in older, four-year institutions.
No separate silos of learning in this building, said Dean of the Arts Division Susan Long.
“We are hoping to create synergy,” Long told the gathering of dignitaries, faculty and students inside the DTC’s towering atrium. “Say an animation student created a film. She would come to the broadcasting student to voice it.”
John Samson has bounced from job to job in the food industry and the theater world. Finally, the 32-year-old came to Mt. SAC to follow his dream of becoming a voice-over actor. He’s taking radio production class in the brand new Design Technology Center and learning to manipulate state-of-the-art computer
programs in order to breathe life into his cartoon characters.
“This keeps me in tune with today’s industry,” he said, referring to the building’s high-tech toys. “I am making my own tracks. My own demo reel.”
The open, environmentally-friendly building designed by HMC Architects looks like a bridge between the old campus and the newer parts of this growing college, the largest single-campus community college in the state of California with 52,750 total students on campus, about half those full-time.
Animation student Naomi Tirronen, 22, of Diamond Bar, will be connecting her experiences at Mt. SAC to Art Center College of Design in Pasadena this fall. She got accepted to the prestigious, four-year art school the same day the DTC was dedicated.
“Ultimately, I’d like to work for Sony as an art director,” she said, after demonstrating the computerized light tables that form neat rows in the Design Lab and are adorned with gleaming Apple Macintosh computers.
The DTC is just one of a new building or more a year during the last 10 years. With Friday’s dedication, the college will have just about spent the $221-million from Measure R, a bond measure approved by local voters in 2001 that helped fund about a dozen new facilities. It will now begin tapping into a $353 million facility bond monies from Measure RR, approved by voters in November 2008. The college also will get $132 million in state matching funds.
Up next is a new Astronomy Dome atop the Science Laboratories Building – a $775,000 project – that opens May 17, followed by the Early Childhood Education Center sometime in the fall, said Mt. SAC President and CEO William Scroggins. The 33,800-square-foot project just east of the DTC is actually four buildings that will house 162 children plus act as a working classroom for students in early childhood development.
A Measure RR bond sale will raise $250 million cash for even more new projects, including a new Business & Technology Building and a first for Mt. SAC – a 2,300-space parking structure.
The marrying of technology with curricula is the heart and soul of Mt. SAC, Scroggins told the gathering. And the DTC is the latest example of that practice.
“We are preparing students for what they will see in the industry. And it is a moving target, so we have to stay current,” he said.
That would include Professor Hector Rivas’s animation and gaming class. Rivas, who spent 15 years at Disney animation studios, says some students will get a certification and that’s enough for an entry level job. Others, like Tirronen, will go on to a four-year university.
A returning student such as Samson is another part of the Mt. SAC demographic. Many are enrolling in community college for re-training after being laid off. Some want to realize a childhood dream.
“The dreams are not about new buildings,” Scroggins said. “But about the mission of Mt. SAC. Here (in the DTC) you’ll see training opportunities that will look like where students go to work. That’s the heart of Mt. SAC.”