By M.L. Dehm HBJ Freelance Writer
EVERETT — Construction is scheduled to begin later this year on Everett Community College’s new 37,000-square-foot Advanced Manufacturing Training and Education Center following approval June 20 by the Washington State Board of Community and Technical Colleges.
John Bonner, executive director of EvCC’s Corporate &Continuing Education, said AMTEC will co-locate some of the major programs at the college and allow it to partner with local K-12 schools in order to prepare the next generation of skilled workers for the advanced manufacturing industry.
“One of the things that we’re trying to do, not only as a college but also as a region, is to try and develop the aerospace pipeline,” Bonner said. “That reaches all the way down into the middle schools and high schools, to help kids consider aerospace or advanced manufacturing as a great career option.”
To do this, the college will use a three-year, $888,653 Advanced Technical Education grant it received from the National Science Foundation in June. Part of that grant will pay for workshops and different activities to expose younger students to science, technology, engineering and mathematics education (STEM) and to highlight careers in advanced manufacturing in particular.
The other part of the grant will be used to create a new job position — the navigator. “It’s a position that will be embedded into the school districts,” Bonner said.
The navigator will guide students, helping them to identify what kinds of classes they can take and what local opportunities are available in advanced manufacturing training. Using these resources, high school students should then be well prepared to transfer to EvCC or to another local institution for their higher level training on that career path.
“There’s an assumption that pursuing a liberal arts college degree is the way to steer children,” Bonner said. “We want to make it clear, both with industry partners as well as other colleges and school districts, that there are really great options if people get involved with manufacturing and aerospace.”
Those students who decide to enter EvCC and opt for an advanced manufacturing path can then take full advantage of AMTEC. The new center will offer EvCC students instruction in the latest technologies with training in the specific, high-demand skills required for their future careers.
To ensure students are able to practice on the most up-to-date equipment, EvCC has planned a $3.5 million remodel of the college-owned warehouse 1001 N. Broadway at College Plaza. The property is currently leased as a clinic by Providence Health &Services.
At least four related major programs will be co-located to that space in order to be nearer to one another on the EvCC campus. This should be more convenient for both students and staff and will ensure that similar classes can share the specialized training equipment that will fill the new center.
“We have a welding and fabrication program which I believe is the largest of its kind in our state,” Bonner said. “They need to expand and continue to have really updated equipment and facilities to work in.”
Also moving to the center will be the composites program, Bonner said. This is a critical industry area that analysts predict will have significant future growth as more airplanes and other vehicles use more composite materials in their construction.
The engineering technology program and precision machining program will be at AMTEC as well.
Once fully operational, AMTEC services should be of benefit to the more than 170 aerospace employers and suppliers in Snohomish County. But Bonner emphasized that this is not just about aerospace.
“The marine industry is a growing industry with the Port of Everett,” he said. “We have large companies that have a lot of needs around welding and ship repair. There is great manufacturing going on.”
AMTEC should also benefit employers in the biotech industry. The Bothell biomedical corridor in south Snohomish County is home to nearly a quarter of the state’s biomedical device firms that require well-trained manufacturing employees. There is also a growing local presence for green technologies manufacturing that will also require a well-trained work force.
AMTEC’s ultimate goal, Bonner said, is to provide well-trained, home-grown talent to these local industries and to offer workers better training for these career paths and that should benefit the community as a whole.