By Jim Davis The Herald Business Journal
EVERETT — More than 200 advanced manufacturing businesses call Snohomish County home, producing everything from airplanes to medical devices.
And those businesses need a trained workforce.
“People want what we have and they’re very aggressive at trying to recruit businesses away and they do that by trying to meet the needs of those businesses,” said John Bonner, Everett Community College’s executive director of Corporate &Continuing Education.
A key to providing a trained workforce in Snohomish County could be the new $3.75 million Advance Manufacturing Training Education Center opening at EvCC in September.
The center will provide hands-on training for students in all areas of manufacturing.
It will put several existing programs under one roof while providing new classrooms, computer labs and shop space as well as the latest equipment.
More important than having the programs close together is that the center is structured so that students can learn manufacturing from design to production to quality control and even recycling of the final product, said Sheila Dunn, EvCC’s associate dean of aerospace and advanced manufacturing.
“(The students) see the life of the manufacturing process and see how each rivet or each piece of fiber core is an important piece of the product that ultimately goes out to the consumer,” Dunn said.
In coming years, as many as half of the new jobs in the region will require more education than high school degrees, but less than a four-year degree, said John Monroe, the chief operations officer of Economic Alliance Snohomish County, in an email.
This training center — and the work being done at school districts throughout the county — will address a critical need for industries.
“(It) will put us in a great position for getting our children and grandchildren ready for tomorrow’s high-demand, high-paying advanced manufacturing jobs,” he said in the email.
The center will be housed in an EvCC-owned warehouse at College Plaza at 1001 N. Broadway.
The building near the Subway and 7-Eleven used to be a former Best store and before that a Jafco store. Providence Regional Medical Center Everett is already leasing the front half of the building for medical record storage, Bonner said.
The back half, about 37,000-square-feet, is undergoing construction in preparation for the opening.
SM Stemper is the design architect and Mark Construction is the general contractor.
“I think we’ve been talking about it for a long time,” Bonner said. “We’ve just been looking for the right space.”
EvCC has also obtained $3 million dollars for faculty, staff, equipment, curriculum and supplies for the center. About 30 full- and part-time faculty will teach at the center.
Four existing EvCC programs will be moved to the center when it opens: welding and fabrication; precision machining; composites; and engineering technology.
The center will also include the manufacturing employment readiness certificate, an entry-level program to introduce students to the manufacturing environment.
Right now, these programs are spread all over the county. EvCC uses classroom space and equipment for its Composites program at Snohomish High School. Because it shares space with the high school, EvCC has only been able to offer composites classes in the late afternoons and evenings.
The precision machining program has been housed in a small hangar at Paine Field for the past couple of years, and before that was co-located at the Sno-Isle Tech Skills Center in Mukilteo.
Welding and fabrication and engineering technology have been taught on the main campus.
Students will be able to get certificates in each of these programs or they can stack these certificates to obtain a two-year degree, Bonner said.
Precision machining and welding are two programs in which skilled workers are in particularly high demand, Bonner said.
Ninety percent of EvCC’s precision machining students find jobs within 30 days of graduation, he said.
By design, the center serves more than Boeing and the aerospace industry. It is expected to give students basic skills to work in all sorts of industries.
“You could go out and work on the 787 or you could also go work for a screwdriver manufacturer,” Dunn said. “It doesn’t really matter in terms of the core competencies.”
Another benefit of the center is that it will allow the college to train more students. Last school year, about 900 students took classes in these programs. EvCC expects to train 1,000 students in the first year that the Advanced Manufacturing center is open. And that number is expected to grow by 10 percent to 30 percent in the next few years, Bonner said.
It’ll also be easier for professionals to take classes.
When the center opens, the college will offer new weekend classes from Friday through Sunday.
“So you could be working as a machinist in a company around here and take this weekend program,” Dunn said. “And learn more competencies that will help you on your job or to get a better job.”