News Release

Published on Thursday, June 20, 2013

Western Technical College held a groundbreaking ceremony today for the first of the six referendum-funded facilities projects – a 20,000-square-foot addition to the Diesel and Heavy Equipment Technology facility in La Crosse’s industrial park.

Business, community, and college leaders joined current and past faculty members for the event, which included tours of the current facilities and a look at renderings of the addition.

“This is a big day for Western and our Diesel and Heavy Equipment program,” said Amy Thornton, Associate Vice President of Strategic Effectiveness and Engagement. “The faculty have been working in an overcrowded and inefficient facility. They found ways to bring learning and education to hundreds of students, but also had a vision for the future and the possibilities that a new state-of-the-art facility would bring to the region.”

The Diesel program has been located on Larson Street since 1974, with a remodel in 1980. In 2006, the program outgrew the current 22,000-square-foot facility, requiring the college to lease an annex building on St. James St.

“This is such an exciting opportunity for our students,” said Casey Eglinton, Diesel and Heavy Equipment Technician program chair. “Bringing them back under one roof will make the learning more cohesive and allow the students to interact with their peers.”

The addition will provide a power train area with eight bays, a heavy equipment area with up to 10 bays, additional classroom space, and a wash bay. The facility will also allow for training on new technology.

“There is a need for technicians who can work with Compressed Natural Gas (CNG),” explained Thornton. “This new space will give us the opportunity to respond to this regional demand.”

Western recently received a grant from the Wisconsin Technical College System to obtain comprehensive CNG training. The college plans to incorporate it into the existing curriculum and offer training opportunities to local businesses.

Because the education will go beyond diesel systems, the finished building will be renamed the Truck and Heavy Equipment Facility.

Construction on the building will begin in July with an expected completion date of spring 2014. The $4.1 million project is part of the $79.8 million referendum that was passed last fall by voters in Western’s 11-county district. In addition to the Diesel facility expansion, the parking ramp and greenhouse projects will also get underway this summer.

“We are excited about the new education and training opportunities these projects will bring to our students and communities,” said Thornton. “This wouldn’t be possible without taxpayer and community partner support.”

For more information on the Diesel and Heavy Equipment Technician program, visit or call 608.785.9200. For details on the college’s Vision 2020 facilities plan, visit