Lone Star Corporate College hosted a virtual grand opening ceremony for its new Transportation & Global Logistics Technology Center, Wednesday, June 3, through videoconferencing because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Lone Star College-Transportation & Global Logistics Technology Center sits on a 19-acre site at 1200 East Cypresswood Dr. in Spring. The new center opened at 7 a.m. on Monday, June 1, offering students the abilities required to become a certified professional truck driver or supply chain manager.
LSC had been leasing space from Spring ISD for more than five years to accommodate the college system’s existing truck driving program, said Linda Head, LSC senior vice chancellor of external and employer relations.
LSCC executive director Ken Krall said the first day at the new LSC-Transportation & Global Logistics Technology Center and featured students that were delayed on finishing the program prior to spring break, who have one week left of road skill training before they are ready to test.
The LSC-Transportation & Global Logistics Technology Center offers a six-week and four-week program, he said, and is now ready to accept new students. The six-week program starts Saturday June 13 with 16 students and the four-week program will begin June 15.
Krall said the 16,000-square-foot facility has five classrooms that can hold up to 32 students each, a technology lab with 24 workstations, a virtual truck driving simulator and an 8.3-acre driving track with six backing pads.
“It’s a quarter-mile track for them to practice parallel parking, straight line backing, offset parking,” Krall said.
He added that the center has office suites, a counseling area for students as well as a break room and currently holds a full-time staff of 15. There is a classroom dedicated to a Stevens Transport customized training program and another area set up for Texas DPS third party testing for commercial driver’s licenses.
The center houses 12 freightliners — six of them manual and the other half automatics — and a dozen 53-foot dry vans. Five of the fulltime instructors are also licensed examiners with the state of Texas for testing, according to Krall.
“That’s really convenient for the students because after they successfully complete their training program then they can get a testing slot in 24 hours to test their skills,” Krall said. “They’ve already passed the written part by the time they get to the yard and road skills testing. It’s a two-hour examination.”
Opening amid the pandemic
The center would normally have up to 32 students in a classroom, eight on the yard with one instructor and four students with one instructor in the truck, Krall said.
With COVID-19 protocols in place, he said there are currently nine students in the classroom with one instructor; on the training yard there are four students to one instructor; and on the road there are two students with one instructor, fully equipped with masks, gloves and face shields.
Krall said there’s a health screener at the front door that checks students’ temperature, which needs to be at 100.4 or lower, then they have to complete a health questionnaire.
“Each time they go outside to the training yard, when they come back in they have to go through the temperature check again,” Krall said.
During the virtual grand opening ceremony, LSC Chancellor Stephen Head said the center will train both qualified truck drivers and logistic managers to ensure the country moves in the right direction at a time when maintaining reliable supply chains is crucial.
He said the center is following all social distancing guidelines and have ordered the equipment needed to keep students and staff safe.
“We understand the value of workforce and what it means to our communities. …We want to get better and better at what we’re doing,” Stephen Head said.
Linda Head said the center’s program is a fast-track for people who may be unemployed or are seeking a new job. A career in truck driving isn’t restricted by a difficult exam or expensive books and equipment, she said, as materials needed to pass the state exam are available on site at the center.
Students can earn their certified commercial driver’s license and the center will be offering logistics and warehousing courses this fall. Krall said going from warehousing to driving to logistics is a natural career progression and that students can earn college credit for their associate degree in logistics and warehousing as well.
“Our lowest salary that students make out of this is $43,000,” Linda Head said. “It’s a good salary and the drivers that are truly driving cross country, they get paid overtime.”
Eric Coleman, a driver for Schwerman Trucking Co., is an LSC truck driving program graduate. Coleman said that the professionalism and assistance he received as a slow learner from staff at Lone Star College was exceptional.
“I will recommend everyone I know that has an interest in truck driving to Lone Star,” Coleman said. “Looks like I have a job today and I’m grateful to have it.”
Progress on 2014 bond projects
The $485 million bond that paved way for the center was approved by voters in November 2014 and the land was purchased a year later at the intersection of Hardy Toll Road and Cypresswood Drive in Spring because its central location between LSC’s seven campuses.
“We thought it was close enough to (FM) 1960, Humble and Aldine and Spring areas; that might be a population that might be interested,” said Linda Head. “(For) that whole area, we thought, this would be a great career program.”
The construction firm Tellepsen started construction of the building, designed by PBK Architects, in February 2019, according to the Lone Star College 2014 bond update website. The project’s budget was $13 million.
The Transportation & Global Logistics Technology Center is just one of the new LSC centers that were included in the bond program.
The LSC-Construction & Skilled Trades Technology Center at the North Harris campus was the first of the new centers to be built, Linda Head said, because there were several construction trade programs available that needed a new building.
“That was supposed to open on a Monday, Hurricane Harvey happened that week, so that got delayed.” Linda Head said about the center at North Harris. The delay put the project timelines behind a little bit, she said.
The next center to open was the LSC-Process Technology Center by Beltway 8 East, and the third was the LSC-Westway Park Technology Center on the westside, which opened a year ago in January.
The LSC-Transportation & Global Logistics Technology Center was the fourth project; and Linda Head said another project, the LSC-Oil & Gas Training Center, is on hold due to the COVID-19 pandemic.