EVERETT – A giant orange robotic arm swung in the air. Students worked on a virtual welding machine. A composite drone sat on display in a classroom.
Everett Community College on Wednesday showed off its new Advanced Manufacturing Training &Education Center, a $3.75 million building to instruct a new generation of workers in all areas of manufacturing.
The center will allow students to study making any item from concept to design to production.
“I will guarantee you that there’s nothing else like this at the community college or technical college level in the state,” said Dan Minzel, the head of the college’s welding and fabrication departments.
His first students got to “arc and spark” in the center on Tuesday, Minzel said. On Wednesday, Gov. Jay Inslee joined dozens of others on a tour the center.
Inslee praised the center for enabling “our future to be as bright as our past.”
He said that the state is under a court order to put more funding toward education at the primary school level. But he said the state also needs to prioritize education before primary school and afterward in colleges and technical schools.
He said he believes we are “confident enough, hopeful enough and smart enough to make those investments.”
The 37,000-square-foot center is housed in a former warehouse at College Plaza at 1001 N. Broadway.
Four EvCC programs that had been scattered around the county will be under the center’s roof. Those programs are: 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.
Minzel said that the center has been talked about for more than 13 years. At first, there was talk of just building a new welding facility.
“Everybody has a welding facility,” Minzel said. “Nobody has this.”
The center allows students to learn a variety of skills. A student that designs an item with an engineering program can walk across the floor to learn how to build it with a welding machine.
And that’s what employers have been telling the college that’s needed, said John Bonner, Everett Community College’s executive director of Corporate &Continuing Education.
“Small manufacturers tell us they need students who have the skills to operate the machinery in all parts of their factory,” Bonner said.
One of the first students who got to work at the center is Brittani Foster, 27, who is studying welding. She helped pack equipment from the old shop on the main campus and move it into the new center.
Foster raved about the new center, saying it is larger than the old shop, cleaner and more high tech. That’s why she volunteered to help with the move.
“I wanted to be here, I wanted to be a part of it,” Foster said. “It’s going to be here a long time.”