DMACC breaks ground on new transportation institute facilities

By: - November 15, 2023 8:00 am

DMACC President Rob Denson speaks at the groundbreaking for the new Transportation Institute facilities. (Photo by Brooklyn Draisey/Iowa Capital Dispatch)

Des Moines Area Community College has broken ground on its new transportation institute facilities, which will allow the program to double its class size and offer more specialized training.

Construction crews were taking advantage of the warm weather Tuesday to begin the first steps of the project as DMACC President Rob Denson made his announcement at a press conference. He thanked the guests, donors and DMACC leaders for their work in helping the college offer more training opportunities for truck drivers to be able to enter the job market.

“Those jobs are out there,” Denson said. “I serve on the Iowa Department of Transportation Autonomous Trucking Committee talking about when trucks (will) run themselves, but there’s always going to need to be a driver. So there’s always going to be a need for what we do.”


Once construction is complete, the institute, located on the north side of Des Moines, will have twice the number of concourses for driver training and a new educational facility. Denson said the project should wrap up in late 2024 or early 2025.

As previously reported by the Iowa Capital Dispatch, Denson said in September that the institution’s current building is old and has issues with leaks and mold, hence the need for a new one. It will be torn down once students are able to move into the new building.

Around half of the site’s 12-acre, paved area is unusable for training concourses and needs to be replaced, and water retention areas will need to be added in. DMACC Director of Industry and Technology Megan Ellsworth said the renovations will expand the number of usable driving ranges from three to six and allow the college to up its capacity from 250 to 500 students.

The new building will hold classrooms, garage spaces and areas for individual and group study. The site plan also includes parking for students and visitors, new entrances and exits and an outdoor canopy.

The expanded space will also allow DMACC to partner with companies to train employees, and offer more diversified training for different types of licenses.

“It just is going to afford us the ability to actually have the space to spread out and to be able to offer different and unique training offerings for the public as well,” Ellsworth said.

Almost one third of the $9 million project has been funded by grants and gifts, including a $1 million grant from Future Ready Iowa. U.S. Rep. Zach Nunn is working on securing $1 million in congressional appropriations for the updates as well, Denson said.

Businessman and DMACC graduate Dennis Albaugh gave a $1 million lead gift to the project, and Denson announced at the conference that the new building will be named the Albaugh Education Center. Gage Kent, CEO of the Kent Corporation, donated $500,000 to the project, and former Barr-Nunn Trucking owners Jane and Bob Sturgeon gave $50,000.

Denson said the college has sent a number of funding requests out to help pay for the rest of the project, with positive responses expected, but DMACC has the funds to complete it itself if needed.

“I couldn’t be happier, truck drivers are something we need and I don’t think you’ll ever be able to take online classes to learn how to drive a truck,” Albaugh said. “This facility is needed and I’m very proud to have my name on a part of it.”


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Brooklyn Draisey
Brooklyn Draisey

Brooklyn Draisey is a Report for America corps member covering higher education. She previously worked for the Quad-City Times and The Gazette covering topics ranging from business to culture.