• DMACC starts construction on a new 8,600-square-foot Transportation Institute.

  • Project funding includes a $1 million donation from DMACC alumnus Dennis Albaugh and a $1 million grant from the State of Iowa, with a $1 million federal request pending.

  • Demand for truck drivers continues to grow across the state and nation.

DMACC President Rob Denson was joined by DMACC alumnus Dennis Albaugh, public officials and private sector executives on Tues., Nov. 14, to celebrate the official groundbreaking for a new, $9 million DMACC Transportation Institute on Des Moines’ north side.

The two-phase project will begin with construction of a new, 8,600-square-foot building featuring classrooms, a three-story inspection bay and student study space. Additionally, the Institute’s current 12-acre concrete training course, which is where students practice driving techniques, will be replaced. The project’s second phase will focus on tearing down the current DMACC Transportation Institute facility, which was built 35 years ago.

“This is an important initiative for DMACC as we continue to provide educated and work-ready graduates for Iowa’s workforce,” said DMACC President Rob Denson. “Iowa’s trucking and manufacturing industry leaders continue to tell us they need more well-trained truck drivers, and this facility will help us meeting that growing demand.”

Denson has a Commercial Driver's License (CDL) and drives a DMACC semi, donated by Truck Center Companies in Altoona, in various Central Iowa community parades every summer. He said the current DMACC Transportation Institute facility is aging, and has no capacity left to grow the number of students in the program.

“The new building and training ground will allow us to double the program’s capacity and result in a significant increase in enrollment,” Denson said.

Support makes new facility possible

During the groundbreaking event, Denson thanked Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds for a $1 million state grant supporting the project; DMACC graduate and Agribusiness executive Dennis Albaugh for his $1 million gift; the Kent Corporation for its $500,000 donation; Bob and Jane Sturgeon for their gift of $50,000; and U.S. Representative Zach Nunn for sponsoring a $1 million federal contribution to the project that’s currently pending.

“Dennis’ donation and the state grant, along with donations from the private sector, put our fundraising efforts in a place that we can move forward ahead of schedule with this new and exciting DMACC facility,” Denson said.

“We’re grateful for their vision and generous support.”

Albaugh, who graduated from DMACC in 1972, said he was proud to support his alma mater. In recognition of his contributions, the new classroom building at the DMACC Transportation Institute will be named the “Albaugh Education Center.”

“I’m a proud DMACC graduate, and I’ve supported the College with other projects throughout the years as well,” Albaugh said. “I believe in the College’s mission to educate and train Iowa’s workforce, and specifically in the need to graduate more truck drivers.”

Albaugh has made prior major donations to DMACC in the recent past, including support for the College’s Automotive Technology Center renovation, Health Sciences building, FFA Enrichment Center; Iowa Culinary Institute at DMACC; and student scholarships.

Meeting industry needs

Beth Townsend, Iowa Workforce Development Executive Director, said there is a significant need in the workforce for those who have earned their Commercial Driver’s License (CDL).

“Truckers are crucial to Iowa’s economic growth and vitality,” Townsend said. “They move Iowa products to market across the nation and bring raw materials to our manufacturers. DMACC’s new Transportation Institute is a good investment for our companies, workers and communities who will be served by these graduates.”

Denson said many industries are facing a workforce shortage, but with retirements and greater national demand to haul freight, there continues to be a shortage of truck drivers.

This year, the DMACC Transportation Institute will graduate 250 students.

“Upon completing the program, our graduates are almost guaranteed a job; it’s not uncommon for top graduates to earn $70,000 or more in their first year,” said Megan Ellsworth, who serves as Director of DMACC Industry & Technology at DMACC and oversees the DMACC Transportation Institute. She said the demand and salaries are even attracting people from other professions.

The DMACC Transportation Institute offers a three-week course that includes a 15-hour online theory class and a behind-the-wheel driving course. Iowa Department of Transportation (DOT) testing is included for those who successfully complete the training.

 The DMACC Transportation Institute was founded in 1988 with several staff and a handful of students and has grown to be one of the largest programs in the Midwest. Today, the DMACC Transportation Institute has a staff of six full-time and 12 part-time instructors who train students with a DMACC fleet of 19 trucks. For more information, visit DMACC Transportation Institute.

Contact: Megan Ellsworth, Director of Industry & Technology at DMACC, (515) 965-7190, mlellsworth@dmacc.edu