Northland Aerospace Building Project Continues to See Progress


On May 1, 2015, Northland Community & Technical College broke ground on a 20,000 sq. ft. state of the art remodeling project at the NCTC Aerospace Site, enhancing Northland’s 50 year history of excellence in aviation maintenance technology education.

“Progress as of early January is ahead of schedule on the project that is slated for completion by June 30, 2016,” mentioned Clinton Castle, Director of Facilities. He added, “nothing major has set us back on the schedule so it has went pretty smoothly.”

According to Don Sollom, project manager for Terra Contractors, “Although we had a slow spring, we have had great weather that has allowed us to get ahead of schedule. We are hoping to do a substantial completion approximately the middle of March 2016.”

The remodel has been an economic help to many local companies who have worked on the project. Some of the workers are products of Northland’s building and trades programs. Sollom was a graduate of Northland’s carpentry program.

Sollom added, “We have tried to bring in as many local companies and sub-contractors as possible. I’m from Thief River and I know how hard these guys work. They have done a great job, I can’t commend them enough.”

We are planning for more students and are also continuing to develop the philosophy that when these classrooms are completed they will be wired to the world. quote
According to Jim Retka, Dean of the Workforce and Economic Development, “The project is expected to cost $4.7 million and will update the facility to offer flexible educational space for multiple programs. Programs like UAS maintenance, aviation maintenance, and geospatial intelligence will utilize the remodeled classrooms, labs and hangars. Future programming may include more robotics and autonomous types of technology programs that will benefit from the remodel. We are planning for the future.”

He added, “We are planning for more students and are also continuing to develop the philosophy that when these classrooms are completed they will be wired to the world. So we will be able to utilize telepresence technology to offer education across the world. Being able to bring in industry experts from around the world to these classrooms via telepresence will be a huge advantage to students.”

The facility advancement will allow Northland’s unmanned aircraft systems maintenance technician program to expand it’s lab space and better serve students preparing for future workforce demands. A large unmanned aircraft systems lab/hangar will be the cornerstone of the project. Additionally, modularized classrooms will utilize the space more efficiently and allow for greater flexibility within the classroom. Virtual capture recording and broadcasting systems will be a theme continued in the multipurpose labs allowing for hybrid and flipped classroom instruction. Because of the project, Northland will be able to better teach advanced composites, avionics, computer science and other NextGen technologies utilized in the aerospace workforce.

After the remodel is complete it will be possible to navigate the entire site without having to go outdoors, something not previously possible.

Northland Community and Technical College is a comprehensive college with campuses in Thief River Falls, MN and East Grand Forks, MN. NCTC also has an aerospace site in Thief River Falls, MN and a satellite site in Roseau, MN. NCTC offers certificates, diplomas, transfer courses, two-year AAS degrees in more than 60 areas of study, workforce training and education programs. NCTC is a member of the Minnesota State system, and is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association. NCTC is an affirmative action/equal opportunity employer & educator. Visit NCTC online at