Grand opening events on tap for AC's new high-tech hub, The Underground

by Joe Wyatt
Published October 24, 2019

Amarillo College will celebrate the launch of its preeminent technology hub - The Underground - with a pair of public Grand Opening events on Tuesday, Nov. 5 at the Washington Street Campus.

UndergroundINThe Underground is an interactive learning center equipped with the latest technology and encompasses more than 11,000 square feet in the basement of the Ware Student Commons.


A Grand Opening and Open House will be from 10:30 a.m. to noon; while a Showcase and Reception are scheduled from 5:30-7 p.m.


Both occasions begin on the first floor of the Ware Student Commons, where AC President Russell Lowery-Hart will give welcoming remarks. Visitors will then descend to The Underground, and the public is welcome and encouraged to attend.


The Underground is the result of a $2.2 million* renovation that includes more than $300,000 in new computer and audio/visual equipment. It features numerous individual work stations, production rooms, large and small collaboration rooms, several 85-inch screens and more.


"Our students have needed a nerve center like this where they can access the full scope of new technology for a long time, and we are very excited to be able to provide it," said Becky Burton, associate vice president of academic services.


"The Underground is a state-of-the-art facility designed for learning in new and engaging ways," she said. "It supports students, faculty and staff. It is so versatile that even some of the chairs are powered with plug-in capabilities."


Rooms within the facility can be reserved by individuals and groups, and one large, high-tech classroom can accommodate an entire class or more.


Maybe best of all, The Underground will have extended hours of operation - until 11 p.m. on weekdays, along with weekend hours that, while not yet set in stone, will give students, faculty and staff vastly improved access to the College’s full arsenal of advanced technology in a single location.


Projectable, writable, magnetic walls are among the featured amenities in The Underground, which contains more than 130 computers – PCs, Macs and laptops - and high-quality printers. MacBooks and laptops are available for checkout, as well.


The Underground is accessible through the Ware Student Commons during regular business hours, but also has an independent outside entrance equipped with a LU/LA elevator that provides full access for wheelchair and power-chair users.


"This is a fantastic place not only for student collaboration and group presentations, but for anyone who maybe doesn’t have a home computer or access to the Internet," said Shane Hepler, chief information officer.


"It literally has something for everyone," he said, "from really cool collaboration areas to production rooms where a professor might record a video lecture, or students can produce videos for their classes."


The Underground is literally a subterranean venue; however, when it comes to technological functionality, the sky's very arguably the limit.


*Project support includes $283,000 in Federal funds (13% of total project cost) provided through a U.S. Department of Education Title V grant and $1,917,000 of institutional funding (87% of project cost).