During these tough economic times, construction and maintenance have become the talk of students, college officials and state lawmakers who oversee higher education.
The issue: Should Minnesota spend its limited money on building and modernizing facilities? Or repair and maintain the ones it has?
The transportation shop at Dakota County Technical College is where students tinker with engines, clean parts and grind studs on car bodies.
But the facilities in which they learn, just like others in the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system, need a multimillion-dollar upgrade.
The shop building needs remodeling so programs can use space more efficiently. Students need new lab equipment and an advanced auto-body painting system in order to be up-to-date on industry standards when they graduate.
And it's about time, said Mike Opp, dean of the college's transportation and industry program.
"Probably the last time the transportation programs have been touched with right-sizing and modernizing was 1973," he said.