MONROE - Kojo Quartey got behind the wheel of an electric car last week, which was not, in and of itself, so unusual.

MONROE — Kojo Quartey got behind the wheel of an electric car last week, which was not, in and of itself, so unusual.

But this car was built by Monroe County Community College students, and Mr. Quartey, the college’s president, drove it on an auspicious day for his institution: It was the formal opening last week, with a ribbon-cutting ceremony, of the new Career Technology Center.

“I just drove it on campus,” he said. “It was not a legal car. It was not ready for the public roads. But the car was made by our students, and it was symbolic of the current programs we’re going to be able to enhance and new ones we’ll create.”

The electric car’s student builders were in the college’s automotive technology program, studying for a field with a bright future, Mr. Quartey said.

“What’s really exciting is that the new technology center will allow us to do some cutting-edge stuff. We’ll expand current programs and start new ones that involve engineering,” he said. “Engineering majors are the highest paid upon graduation. The idea is to get individuals into these fields that are the most lucrative.”

The $17 million, 60,000-square-foot technology center will offer instruction in nuclear engineering, welding, construction, computer-aided drafting and manufacturing, electronics, mechanical engineering and automation, quality assurance, and automotive engineering. These programs have been housed in the East and West Technology buildings, which were inadequate to meet modern technology needs.

Officials said the center also has room for expansion for programs in such emerging areas as wind, solar, and fuel-cell technology.

The center’s labs include automation, automotive technology, construction, electronics, manufacturing, materials, mechanical design, metrology, renewable energy, nuclear energy, and welding.

State Rep. Dale Zorn (R., Ida), who has an automotive-service business himself, told the guests, “There will always be the need for career technology education, and Monroe County Community College is on the cutting edge of state-of-the-art instruction.”

Joe Verkennes, the college’s director of marketing, said most of the center’s cost had been raised or appropriated, including $8.5 million from the state, $4.25 million set aside by the college, and $2 million in gifts and commitments.

“We are still raising funds,” Mr. Quartey said. “We welcome donations, and there are opportunities to buy corporate naming rights in the building.”

Contact Carl Ryan at: or 419-724-6095.