Trade school gets rolling on new campus

Advanced Career Institute will build an 11,000-square foot campus for truck driving and welding in Visalia Industrial Park

VISALIA – A Visalia truck driving and welding school has received approval to build a new campus in the Visalia Industrial Park.

At its Dec. 14 meeting, the Visalia Planning Commission approved Advanced Career Institute’s permit to build a its new trade school on the northern portion of a nine-acre property at 1243 N. Clancy St. in Visalia. Advanced Career Institute (ACI) is proposing to build two buildings connected by a covered breezeway for a total of 11,000 square feet. The two classrooms will be split between a commercial driving school and a welding school. ACI currently operates the two trade schools out of two separate campuses with the commercial driving school located at 1728 N. Kelsey Street and the welding school located at 8425 W. Elowin Court.

ACI’s commercial driving school operates two different classroom tracts each weekday, with a daytime session from 7 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. and an evening session from 4::30 to 9:00 p.m. The driving school will include instruction in an indoor classroom setting and in an outdoor “skills yard” with three immobile tractors and trailers used for pre-trip and air brake classes. Currently, all student truck maneuvering skills are practiced at the Tulare campus. The trucks located at the Visalia campus are utilized to taxi students between the Visalia and Tulare campuses but are parked overnight at the subject site. Students do their final testing at the Commercial Testing Center in Fresno, and after successful completion return to Visalia campus to do final paper work.

The majority of students attend a four week 160 hour program (eight hours per day for four weeks) or an eight week 160 hour program (four hours per day for eight weeks). The primary equipment consists of commercial trucks and trailers with a maximum trailer length of 28 feet. The new campus will accommodate up to 20 students, eight administrative staff, and six instructional staff at a time, as well as deliveries and up to eight visits per day from prospective students.

The welding program prepares students to obtain American Welding Society (AWS) welder performance qualifications in the horizontal, vertical, overhead, and 6G positions.

Brothers Barry, Kevin and Glenn Bither opened the Advanced School of Driving in Fontana, Calif. in 1986 when their company, and others, realized there was a shortage of certified truck drivers. They opened a second location in Visalia in 1993 and added its Fresno campus in 2000 where students learn to drive commercial trucks and buses. In 2004, the family changed the name to Advanced Career Institute, to accommodate a new direction for the thriving company and added welding classes in Visalia in 2008.

In 2011, ACI received its accreditation from the Council on Occupational Education and the Depa1tment of Education. ACI is a recognized trainer for Work Force investment, Department of Rehabilitation, Veteran Affairs, Proteus as well as many employers such as Amazon, UPS, and FedEx. ACI’s new campus will require approval from several different agencies including California’s Bureau For Private Postsecondary Education, The Council on Occupational Education (ACl’s accrediting body), and the U.S. Department of Education.

Today, programs are held at three other campuses located between Bakersfield and Merced. The company has a history of employing administrative personnel while successfully providing vocational training, certification and job placement to hundreds of students, many of which continue to maintain their primary residence in Visalia.

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