Article Written by Maya Geving. Photo by Maya Geving.
St. Cloud Technical and Community college has begun the construction of their new Advanced Manufacturing Training Lab. The lab will provide more opportunities for students in at least five of SCTCC’s programs due to the new and improved technology. According to the Interim Dean of Skilled Trades and Industry at SCTCC, Aaron Barker, the lab is scheduled to open in fall of 2023. Barker also states that the cost of construction and new technology will amass to about $4.8 million.
SCTCC will be renovating some of the space they already have as well as adding more space to create the lab. They will be adding about 3,500 square feet to their existing facilities. The addition of the lab will also allow the technical college to increase the number of students they can train. It will allow programs such as energy and electronics to double the amount of students they can train at once. Around half of the new Advanced Manufacturing Training Lab is being paid for by a grant given to SCTCC by the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration in 2020. This grant will cover $2.5 million of the total cost. The rest of the construction and technology is being funded by the technical college itself.
St. Cloud Technical and Community College has been essential to the workforce in St. Cloud and the surrounding area. Offering a wide selection of degrees and job pathways, the manufacturing technology field of study at SCTCC remains highly important. This field includes CNC (computer numerical control) and advanced machining, computer-aided mechanical design, energy and electronics, mechanical design and welding/fabrication. With the new training lab and technology, students will have even more opportunities. According to Barker, some of the technology will include a metal 3D printer, a water jet, collaborative robots, RFID (radio-frequency identification) and System Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA).
When asked about what specific opportunities the lab will create for students, Barker says, “The students will be able to work on new technology. Some of the newest technology will be coming to this building, such as a metal 3D printer. We also are partnering with industry (welding/machining/mechanical design) to have a collaborative and shared space, so students will be able to work alongside industry to help solve some of their problems they have in industry.” Such problems include not having access to relevant technology or enough space to be trained properly.
The new equipment will also be helpful for many industries. Director of Customized Training, Jennifer Erikson, says, “The new equipment will really be useful across a broad range of industries, including all those served by SCTCC’s various manufacturing technology programs.”
The new equipment can also improve the existing workforce in St. Cloud. “Companies looking to train their current workers can partner with Customized Training. We will work with them to build training to meet the specific needs of their existing workforce, whether those employees are in maintenance, production, design, or other fields. The combination of state-of-the-art equipment and tailored training is aimed at making the region’s businesses more productive and more competitive,” says Erikson