EVERETT — It’s an innovative concept to teach students all aspects of manufacturing.
Just two years ago, Everett Community College launched its Advanced Manufacturing Training &Education Center, a kind of simulated factory floor to teach students the skills for the jobs of tomorrow.
Now, the college is about to open a major expansion of the center called AMTEC.
The $2.5 million project will add 17,000 square feet to AMTEC at 909 N. Broadway in Everett. With the expansion, the center will grow to 54,000 square feet.
The added space will provide a lab for the new mechatronics classes, which aim to teach students how to install, maintain and repair industrial equipment. Workers in the field are in high demand, said John Bonner, the college’s vice president of corporate and workforce training.
“We’re trying to respond to that need,” Bonner said. “There are so many people out there doing that type of work that are nearing retirement.”
The expansion will also provide more office and classroom space and a new industrial flex area so that the college can respond quickly to changing industry needs, Bonner said.
The college opened AMTEC in fall 2014. Programs housed at AMTEC include precision machining, welding and fabrication, engineering technician, composites and pre-employment programs.
In its first full year, the center trained 1,056 students for jobs in manufacturing and aerospace, an increase in enrollment of 15 percent for AMTEC programs.
Based upon the first year’s results, EvCC President David Beyer and the Board of Trustees went ahead with the decision to expand.
The center shares a former warehouse with Providence Regional Medical Center Everett, which stores medical records at the site. Providence gave up some space for the expansion.
EvCC trustee Bob Bolerjack said the skills that the center provide are in high demand. He pointed to Boeing’s forecast last month of demand for jetliners. The company expects airlines to need nearly 40,000 jetliners over the next 20 years, a $5.9 trillion market. Boeing and its suppliers need workers with skills that AMTEC can provide.
“Advanced manufacturing is evoloving so rapidly,” Bolerjack said. “The community college has to provide the training that employers and employees need in a changing marketplace.”
The college went ahead with the expansion without being fully funded for launch, Bonner said.
“If we were to wait for state funding, we might be waiting for quite a while,” Bonner said.
Instead, they’ve sought out grants and donations to help fund the expansion and the added mechatronics classes. This summer, the college and the Center of Excellence for Aerospace and Advanced Manufacturing along with four other community colleges in the Puget Sound area received a $3.9 million grant from the federal Department of Labor to support mechatronics.
Bonner said the mechatronics program and the facility will be ready when students arrive this fall. A new instructor who spent six years at Boeing as a mechanical-propulsion design and analysis engineer has been hired to teach the mechatronics program. EvCC is still seeking more grants and donations, especially for equipment.
“As the program grows, we don’t want students to be waiting too long to get on equipment,” he said.
One of the strengths of the center has been the support from the business community, Bolerjack said.
“A lot of the equipment is coming through grants and gifts from business,” Bolerjack said. “It’s really the community working together to ensure a stronger economic future.”