AmTech Career Academy, Amarillo ISD
Invigorating career development in the Panhandle.
Transforming a defunct retail space into an innovative job training and career placement center, the AmTech Career Academy in Amarillo, Texas features learning opportunities for students to work alongside real-world professionals to prepare and equip them for successful careers in a variety of industries.
From IT, construction technology, and criminal justice to hospitality, healthcare, and vet tech, students are primed with access to current technologies and environments to test hands-on skills. Students gain robotics skills in a drone coliseum, study advanced mechatronics in the “Smart Factory,” get certified in healthcare in an Anatomage Theater, and learn media and advertising in a media production studio. Elsewhere, a full culinary kitchen, coffee bistro, credit union, and an auto paint & body shop serve as a stage to practice new hard and soft skills.
Double-height windows flood the entry area with light as bright corridors, wall graphics, and street signs provide wayfinding to more than 80 work-study programs and laboratories. Flexible hubs throughout provide floating teachers a place to store materials, while individual study areas give students private and collaborative spaces to work. Staff and students are invited to eat lunch in the banquet hall operated by culinary arts students, while multi-use spaces such as the lecture hall complement The Career Placement Center to host job fairs and events throughout the year.
Prioritizing sustainability and environmental impact, much of the existing building and materials were repurposed. The original stone veneer was restored and reused, paving asphalt scraped off parking lots exposed existing concrete, and 60% of the original roof system was reused and overlaid with a reflective TPO roof to reduce the heat island effect. The building upgrades also include energy-efficient thermal glass windows, LED lighting, new high SEER HVAC, low-flow plumbing, and energy management control systems.
A testament to its innovation, the AmTech Career Academy has gained national attention and serves as a model for leaders and educators exploring new approaches to career development that puts young adults on the track to successful careers.
Repurposing the old to make way for the new.
Two abandoned buildings were purchased and repurposed by the district to create the new career academy.
Gaining real-world experience.
Public spaces, such as a full-service bistro, auto shop, and bank, are open to the community. These amenities are staffed with students, who receive pay and school credits.
Learning on Display
Learning on display is highlighted through ample glass, program adjacencies, and environmental branding.