If you ask Martin Gutierrez about why he started taking technical education classes while at North High, he found it interesting and easy to understand.

“It's more of a tactile part of learning, you kind of get to have a lot more hands-on,” he told KAKE Friday.

Gutierrez is one of several Wichita public school students that have been taking classes at the district’s new "Future Ready Center" while it was being finished. Friday, the district held its ceremonial opening of the former grocery store turned educational complex.

WPS Superintendent Dr. Alicia Thompson says the school board has had the building for a while and had been working on a plan to best utilize it. 

“They had no idea exactly what they wanted to do with the building and so over the years, we've kind of talked about a lot of different things that we can do with this building but one of the things we wanted to make sure is that it was going to not just impact our school district, but impact our entire community.“

The "Future Ready Center" will be available to high schoolers across the district to take airplane manufacturing classes as early as the 10th grade. Students will be able to get needed industry certifications to enter the workforce, all for free.

The center is a collaboration between WPS, WSU Tech, and the city to help increase opportunities to develop more workers in Wichita’s biggest industry.

Dr. Sheree Utash, the president of WSU Tech, says students will “be qualified to go work in our aviation industry, our supply chain industry here in Wichita.”

Gutierrez says he understands the opportunity this program represents for him and his classmates. "It's really good that we get to learn it while still being in school and doing this type, of course, to get like a preview of what our future can be and what we can do.”

The building renovations were partly funded by federal COVID money from the city of Wichita last year.