For Rebeccah Hartline, the light came on about becoming an auto mechanic in a dramatic way.
“It really just ultimately came down to my car broke down and I didn’t have any idea what was wrong whatsoever,” she said. “I stood on the side of the road, hood up, smoke billowing out, and I thought, 'What's going on? And I had to have someone else tell me what was wrong, and I didn’t like that.”
Hartline, 20, was one of the Ranken Technical College students who led tours Thursday during the first open house at Ranken's new satellite campus in Wentzville. The event was designed not only to draw prospective students, parents and even companies that might hire graduates, but also as an unveiling of an investment of public money.
The college is using the Carpenter District Council of St. Louis' 25,000-square-foot office building at 755 Parr Road near the General Motors assembly plant. An agreement with Wentzville calls for the city to subsidize Ranken's $80,000 annual lease for three years and provide $120,000 for staffing.
College officials hope to have 60 students enrolled at the Wentzville campus the first year and at least 200 in two to three years.
Classes are scheduled to begin there in June for the two-year associate's degree programs in automotive maintenance and information technology. A program on building systems engineering technology and a bachelor of science program in applied management will be added this fall. Classes for a diesel engine maintenance technology program will begin in the fall of 2014.
An estimated 371 people — including students, local business leaders, elected officials, teachers, counselors and school alumni — attended the open house.
“It's definitely a state-of-the-art facility for education,” Wentzville Alderman Forrest Gossett, Ward 1, said after taking a tour.