Orange Technical College moving to Ocoee

A new Westside campus will replace the existing one on Story Road.

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  • | 3:15 p.m. October 1, 2019
  • West Orange Times & Observer
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Changes are in the works for Orange Technical College, including the construction of an entirely new facility in West Orange County.

Design is underway for a new Orange Technical College Westside campus to be built next to Ocoee High School — on the other side of the West Orange Trail.

It’s all part of a transition that will sweep across four out of Orange Technical College’s five campuses. Dr. Michael Armbruster, associate superintendent for career and technical education at Orange County Public Schools, said Orange Technical College will transition to an institute model. Each of the campuses will have a specific focus moving forward, with the Westside campus holding classes pertaining to construction work, along with veterinary assisting and human services like cosmetology and massage therapy.

Meanwhile, the Orlando campus in downtown will focus on medical programs; the Winter Park campus will become an IT institute and move to the east side of Orlando near University High School; and the Mid Florida campus will deal with transportation, manufacturing, culinary and hospitality.

“By honing in on an institute-type model, it allows us, instead of having a smorgasbord, to really kind of focus everything towards that career,” Armbruster said. 

“It allows us to put resources together. Instead of having a welding lab at our Westside campus and welding lab at our Mid Florida campus, it allows us to combine that, which is a better stewardship of taxpayer dollar. It also allows us to put multiple teachers together in one place, as opposed to having one here, one there and one over there. When you have the one-teacher model, if they’re out sick, (the class) get a substitute. When you have multiple teachers in a program, if a teacher’s out, you got other teachers to help guide what’s going on.”

The brand-new Westside campus should be around 140,000 square feet, Armbruster said, adding that the exact layout of the buildings is still being determined.

He said it makes sense to have a construction focus on the Westside campus, as the area continues to see rapid growth.

“On this side of town, we’re the largest growing area — probably for the next 20 years we will be,” Armbruster said. 

“The construction industry is what we’re really pushing for the Westside campus. … That includes all of our apprenticeship programs. Our feed program is the largest apprenticeship program in the state of Florida. It’s got over 800 students engaged in it right now, and it’s the largest electrical apprenticeship program in the southeastern United States.”

Armbruster said he was unsure what would happen to the current Westside campus on Story Road in Winter Garden, but added how excited he was for the new campus and model.

“It’s a well-thought-out and well-discussed idea on where we’re moving and I think it’s going to benefit our community,” Armbruster said.

“We’re going to become a national model is what I believe. I believe right there next to Ocoee High School, we’ll see a national model of what a technical college for the future should look like.”

Construction for the new campus is expected to start in June 2020 and the campus should be open by August 2022, Armbruster said.


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