The first DMACC classes were offered in the spring term of 1966-67. The College was in the planning stages for the first campus, thus the first courses and programs were offered in three facilities: a former grocery store in West Des Moines (Center One); a former skating rink in West Des Moines (Center Two) and in the educational unit of the First United Methodist Church in Ankeny. Each location was a leased facility and had parking available. The two West Des Moines centers were approximately one mile apart.
Center One, located at 2501 Vine in West Des Moines, was a relatively new facility with terrazzo flowers, fluorescent lighting, an automatic front door and two bathrooms. The only windows in the building were near the front door. Most of the building was one open space with limited electrical outlets, which were wired in four banks. It was decided to install partitions for classrooms throughout the building, but only at heights that would allow air flow for heating and cooling below the ceiling. The side of the building that housed administrative and student services offices and a faculty work room was partitioned with panel walls to the ceiling. The doors usually were left open to provide circulation.
Programs that were originally housed in the Center included: Data Processing, Dental Assisting, Marketing, Medical Assistant, Medical Lab Technician, Office Occupations and Operating Room Technician.
Major issues with the facility centered upon noise, poor ventilation, lack of electrical access, lack of faculty office space, limited rest room space and crowding.
Student problems related to these issues included:
- It was difficult for teachers to use audio visual equipment in their classroom since the noise would interrupt other classes. It was also impossible to turn out the lighting in one classroom, without disrupting adjacent classrooms. Loud speakers and lively class discussions would also interfere with neighboring classes.
- Several administrative and support staffs were located in the building; primarily in student services and vocational education. Two short course coordinators were also housed there.
- Classroom partitions interrupted air flow which varied the temperature substantially from area to area. The areas along the walls were extremely cold in the winter as there was little insulation in the exterior walls.
- Wiring for individual rooms had to be "dropped" from the ceiling or run along the wall, which dictated classroom layouts.
- Faculty members were required to "office" in the classrooms and labs, which made it difficult for them to hold one-on-one conferences with students. Some faculty shared a common desk. Storage was also a problem, although there were steel storage units in some classrooms.
- The gender ratio among students was predominately female. The small size of the restrooms resulted in lines during class breaks, especially at lunch. Later the men's restroom was used as a women's restroom during peak demand times with monitors standing at the door to prevent embarrassment.
- Many classrooms were crowded, making it difficult to develop functional labs, particularly with the lack of space and electrical and plumbing support (medical lab). After a year or two many of the programs moved to new facilities at the Ankeny Campus, which considerably reduced building problems.
The facility was later a technical school and a Christian elementary school.
Center Two was located at 2020 Grand in West Des Moines. The building was much larger and had a high ceiling. It originally had been a manufacturing building before being converted into a skating rink.
Programs that were originally housed in the Center included: Architectural Drafting, Auto Mechanics, Building Trades, Conditioned Air, Diesel Mechanics, Electronics, Job Shop Machinist, Mechanical Drafting and Tool and Die. Offices for student service personnel, the Director of Vocational Education and a short course coordinator were located within the facility.
Much of the space in Center Two was devoted to labs, and classes were often held in the labs. Major issues with the facility centered upon space, door size and office space.
Student problems related to these issues included:
- The programs each had the need for specialized equipment for lab support. It took careful planning to work the layout for the building. Program enrollments increased once space was made available to them.
- It was challenging to move large equipment into and out of the building, especially diesel trucks. The doors were so narrow that there was only about ½ inch clearance on each side. The height of the door required the air to be out of the tires to get through the opening.
- The shortage of office space required the college to build a "crow's nest" for some offices at a second level. The stairway was steep but was never a problem.
Ankeny First United Methodist Church
Several classroom based programs were housed in the educational unit in the church basement. The major challenge in this facility was classroom and furniture size, since the facility was primarily designed for children's use. On Mondays faculty and students would put the "little furniture" in storage and put the "big furniture" in the classrooms from storage then reverse that process on Fridays.
Programs that were originally housed in this location included: Agri-Business, Bookkeeping and Accounting, Computer Programming and Printing. Occupants and programs from this location were among the first to move to the Ankeny Campus when it opened in the spring of 1969.