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Mario Reyna, dean of business, public safety and technology at South Texas College, points to a new building being furnished at STC's technology campus in south McAllen.

McALLEN, RGV – South Texas College is starting an online program for students based at high schools in Reynosa.

Brief details about the program were unveiled by Mario Reyna, dean of business, public safety and technology at STC.

“Something unique is going to happen this semester,” Reyna told McAllen Economic Development Corporation’s board of directors. “We are going to have our first online class from Reynosa. We have gone out to a couple of the high schools and we have enough students for our first class. I think it is exciting. It is historical. We are going to continue promoting education in Reynosa.”

Reyna did not reveal which Reynosa high schools STC is partnering with. He did, however, say STC was “only a few steps away from having the manufacturing class taught at the Instituto Internacional de Estudios Superiores.”

Under the STC-IIES collaboration, STC instructors will teach maquiladora workers new skills at the IIES’ Vista Hermosa campus, located at Avenida del Parque 1000 in Reynosa. STC leaders have been quick to point out the college will not be developing a campus in Reynosa.

New buildings for STC

In his remarks, STC’s Reyna said a new building is going up at the technology campus that measures 34,000 square feet. Reyna said the building at the technology campus should be ready for the start of the new school year, Aug. 28. He said new buildings at STC’s other four campuses should be ready for the start of the 2018 calendar year.

“STC is so excited construction of all the new facilities is almost over. By Spring, 2018, a lot of new space will open up on all the campuses. We are a comprehensive college that is here to meet the needs of the community. If there is something you want, let us know and we will add it,” Reyna told the Rio Grande Guardian.

He said he was particularly pleased to see a new building going up at STC’s Nursing & Allied Health Center in McAllen.

“Come Spring of 2018 we should have double the capacity we have right now for nursing and allied health. I know there are a lot of students out there waiting for this program. The hospitals and clinics are looking for qualified personnel,” Reyna said.

Asked about the new building at the tech campus, Reyna said: “The new building is 76,000 square feet. It will have room for the Institute for Advanced Manufacturing, the electrician and the construction supervision programs are going in there. In addition, it will have conference rooms and faculty offices. We have been here for 20 years. We have run out of space for diesel, automotive, for heating, ventilation, and air conditioning. There will be more space for training and education.”

STC Regional Center for Public Safety Excellence

Reyna also reported on STC’s Regional Center for Public Safety Excellence in south Pharr. He said some of the construction is already underway.

“I went out there yesterday. We have the skills pad, this is where we are going to teach the police cadets how to drive. We also had enough money to build a stretch, what we call the emergency vehicle operations course, covering 721 feet, where they can practice emergency breaking, and evasive lane maneuvers. That is going to be beneficial for the community,” Reyna said.

In addition, STC plans to build an urban village where police can practice entering homes. “We do not have enough money for the building but we had enough money to do the streets. I think we can have access to those tools by November of this year. The building itself is going to a 19,600 square-foot building. That is going to be available by June, July, next year,” Reyna said.

Reyna said in his view the plan for the regional center is visionary.

“You are looking at a plan that will eventually be around $71 million when everything is said and done. We are not going to do it tomorrow. It is going to take time. Some of it will take participation from the community, especially when it comes to the EVOC (emergency vehicle operations course). That piece of educational tool is about $3.2 million. We have contributed that already. Then we have the covered gun range. That is another $3.6 million. We are asking the federal government to participate and there is a good chance that we will get the money for that.”

Reyna said the Regional Center for Public Safety Excellence will also be used by firefighters.

“Firefighters need facilities to practice what they do. There are about three buildings and there’s another four million dollars for these buildings. It is a three- or four-story building where they can repel and put fires out. It is structure that looks like a home. Then there is a confined space where it is totally dark. It is one of a kind. Perhaps A&M would have something similar to what we are doing. This is going to be comprehensive. It is going to cover fire, police, and there might be some additional participation from homeland security.”

As for the courses STC offers, Reyna said a popular program was welding.

“We have 21 full time teachers for welding. We started five or six years ago and we had one full-time staff member. The demand has exploded. Same thing with diesel, and the electrician program. The community recognizes the value of these occupations so we have people from all over the place. These programs change their lives, changes the lives of their families for years to come.”

Reyna participated in an RGG LIVE conversation on Facebook recently with Rio Grande Guardian publisher Mark Hanna. Among the topics discussed was the Regional Center for Public Safety Excellence.

RGG LIVE: Mario Reyna, dean of Business, Public Safety, & Technology at South Texas College discusses a big public safety training initiative coming to the RGV, and other hot topics.

Posted by Rio Grande Guardian on Tuesday, August 15, 2017