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MCC Skilled Trades and Technology Center renovations begin

MCC Skilled Trades and Technology Center renovations begin

Macomb Community College President James Sawyer, left, and Macomb Community College Board of Trustees Chair Katherine Lorenzo break through the old wall of the Skilled Trades and Technology Center during a ceremony Jan. 31.

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes

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WARREN — As the need for highly skilled employees in manufacturing, technology and skilled trades continues to grow, Macomb Community College is keeping up with the demand.

College officials recently announced the school will undergo a $40 million renovation to update Macomb’s Skilled Trades and Technology Center, located at South Campus in Warren. According to a college press release, this is the largest renovation in the college’s 68-year history.

“When it’s all said and done we’re going to have a state-of-the-art facility,” said Don Hutchison, dean of engineering and advanced technology at Macomb Community College. “We think our new building, and the emphasis we have on technology, will drive more students into our program. We take the students from scratch. By the time they learn, they’re ready to hit the ground running.”

On Jan. 31, school officials, local business owners and elected officials gathered at South Campus for a ceremony to kick off the renovation process. Macomb Community College President James Sawyer and Board of Trustees Chair Katherine Lorenzo spoke about the project.

“Macomb is recognized as an unparalleled resource for training highly-skilled talent. That talent is so critical to the success to our region’s automotive and defense sectors,” Lorenzo said. “Macomb’s collaboration with industry, other educational institutions and community and elected leaders is vital to Macomb’s ability to remain on the cutting edge and deliver stellar programs, education and training.”

The Skilled Trades and Technology Center was first built in 1968 and is currently 110,000 square feet in size. The building will expand with 20,000 square feet of educational and lab space with a 12,000-square-foot addition and a repurposing of underutilized space.

Approximately $15 million of the project cost will be funded through a capital outlay appropriation from the state of Michigan. The college’s capital projects fund will cover the other $25 million.

MCC Skilled Trades and Technology Center renovations begin

“This building houses some of the programs that have made Macomb such an integral part of the community over the years,” Sawyer said. “The renovation is truly transformational.”

The following programs are available in the Skilled Trades and Technology Center: Computer Numerical Control (CNC) machining, drafting, Computer-Aided Design (CAD), electronics, fluid power technology, land surveying, media and communication arts, mechatronics, robotics, welding, and product development, including digital sculptor and clay modeling.

The updates will include new spaces where students can gather and engage in projects, to collaborate and solve problems during class. Labs and classrooms will encompass best practices with input from industry and Macomb staff members.

The renovation will ensure that current equipment and IT networking needs will connect to the new classrooms and labs. The new design also will provide flexibility to accommodate future advances in cyber-physical systems that bridge the digital and physical worlds. Upgrades will replicate modern industrial settings. For example, crews will replace poorly lit, closed-in areas with bright, inviting spaces with windows and natural light.

Guest speakers at the ceremony also included Greg Cummings, general manager of strategic development/implementation at the General Motors Design Center, and Doug Rhodes, senior facilities manager at Aramark. General Motors and Aramark represent industry partners that have employed Macomb graduates over the years. Cummings was a student at Macomb in the mid-1980s.

“Programs such as auto body design, which is what it was called when I was attending this school, have evolved into product development now and includes digital sculpting, clay sculpting, CAD,” Cummings said. “I get the opportunity to work with artists, skilled trades, wood model makers, metal model makers. I work with those people all day long, including people in art.

“There are technical programs at Macomb that are very relevant today. The students that I see come out of Macomb, they’re well-equipped from day one,” said Cummings, who added he has traveled the country for the past 20 years to various college and recruiting events. “I talk to students all over the country about my experience at Macomb, and as well as GM. The first question I get when students see clay and digital sculpting is, ‘How come nobody ever told about that?’ The second question I get is, ‘I can’t believe they are still using clay.’ I get that from the faculty. Clay is alive and well.”

“I look forward to watching the continued growth,” Rhodes said. “Working with Macomb has been an excellent partnership. The exciting part of this program is the opportunity to find bright engaged team members on a pathway to success. I’d like to see us reach out to high schools and start a pre-apprenticeship program.”

During the renovation process, the programs located in the Skilled Trades and Technology Center will be held in other buildings and in leased space in Clinton Township. Hobbs+Black Architects, based in Ann Arbor, is the project’s architect. Barton Marlow, headquartered in Southfield, is the construction manager. The new facility is expected to be open in the fall of 2023.

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