When the mysterious voice in Field of Dreams whispered, “If you build it, he will come,” EVIT instructor Billy DeWitt was listening. Since August, he has been building a Construction Technologies program that is attracting students from across the East Valley and business support from across Arizona.
Under DeWitt’s leadership, the East Valley Institute of Technology is now an accredited training facility as recognized by the National Center for Construction Education and Research, which sets the standard for training in the construction industry. Seven instructors, including DeWitt, in EVIT’s Construction Technologies, Plumbing, Welding, and HVAC programs at the Main Campus and Welding program at Apache Junction High School are NCCER-certified.
What this means for students: They are being trained to the highest standard in the construction industry and have the opportunity to earn professional NCCER credentials that make them employable anywhere. For Arizona’s building trades industry, it means EVIT is a pipeline for well-trained, qualified workers.
DeWitt remembers what it was like watching the bottom fall out of Arizona’s construction industry during the recession. Now he’s pumped about EVIT working with the industry to rebuild Arizona’s building trades.
"To be number one in the business, we have to rely on our trade partners," he said. "They believe in me and in this program."
The list of this year’s donations – both monetary and in-kind – to EVIT’s Construction Technologies program totals well over $800,000 and continues to grow every day. Some examples include: Okland Construction donating supplies and paying about $100 per student for EVIT’s Construction students to obtain their Fall Protection Awareness Cards; the Home Builders Association of Central Arizona providing $10,000 in supplies; and Sundt Construction donating $5,000 plus $1,800 worth of safety vests, safety glasses and hard hats. Then there’s Erickson Framing, which is donating $58,500 worth of lumber and materials so that EVIT students can build a house at the Dr. A. Keith Crandell (Main) Campus in Mesa. The house will be used by all of the building trades programs for training.
Currently, there are 324 high school students and adults enrolled in EVIT’s building trades programs.
“If there was no EVIT, I would still be trying to figure out what I wanted to do, unsure of the career opportunities and unsure of what I want to do with my future,” said Christopher Serrano, 17, a senior at Mesa’s Red Mountain High School. “With EVIT, you’re allowing thousands of students to be successful in their careers and preparing them for college or the workforce.”
EVIT offers 40 career training programs at two centralized campuses in Mesa and at Apache Junction High School. EVIT is tuition-free for East Valley high school students. Tuition-based programs for adults are also offered.
EVIT students have a 96 percent high school graduation rate, two out of three go to college, and 87 percent are in jobs, college or the military within one year of their training.
EVIT is enrolling for 2016-17. Information: www.evit.com. Follow EVIT on Twitter @evitnews. Use hashtag #WeAreEVIT.