On Friday, Delgado Community College opened its new $6.5 million, 19,000 sq. ft. state-of-the-art education facility as part of its Maritime and Industrial Training Center in New Orleans.
“We’re bucking the trend of pulling back while the industry is down,” the center’s senior director, Rick Schwab, said. “We’re putting our money where our mouth is. It’s a major investment, and everything was designed for the industry.”
The center averages 8,000 to 10,000 students each year and hopes to increase that number to 12,000. Additions to the facility include three new Transas wheelhouse simulators, a larger fire field, classroom expansion for up to 100 people at a time, additional radar labs and conference center. New programs will include QMED (Qualified Member of Engine Department), engine resource management and confined space competent person. “It took me 12 years to get this, but with the help of the Delgado administration and my instructors and support people, we got it done and we’re proud of it,” Schwab said.
Delgado’s instructors are the backbone of the training facility, according to Schwab. “All my instructors are professionals who have been in the industry for at least 10 years,” he said. “The other day during a leadership class, one guy was starting to struggle, breaking into a sweat, and one of the EMT instructors recognized that he was about to have a heart attack. He discreetly as possible got him out of the class and got him the help he needed. That’s our guys.”
Schwab said that all the center’s courses are designed to give participants what they need, according to regulatory demands. “We believe there is a tool for every job,” he said. “We treat the deckhands the same way we treat the captains. This is reality here.”
That said, Delgado’s instructors and support staff will make sure participants have everything they need to succeed, said Schwab. “The reason we built this place is for the industry, an industry that’s more a lifestyle than just a job,” he said. “We want you to feel like you’re part of a family here. Lots of people don’t come here once and that’s it. They come back for refreshers or an upgrade.”