The new Macomb Community College Skilled Trades and Advanced Technology Center on the college’s South Campus in Warren is now open.

The new Macomb Community College Skilled Trades and Advanced Technology Center on the college’s South Campus in Warren is now open.

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes

MCC opens Skilled Trades and Advanced Technology Center

By: Maria Allard | Metro | Published August 18, 2023

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WARREN — Several days before the Macomb Community College 2023 fall semester began, officials unveiled the new Skilled Trades and Advanced Technology Center on the college’s South Campus.

On Aug. 11, about 200 people gathered for the grand opening of the $45 million, 130,000-square-foot facility, located in the former R, S and T buildings. The center will offer programs designed to prepare students for high-demand careers in advanced manufacturing, technology and the skilled trades. The new center optimizes the environmental infrastructure for teaching and learning that embodies the current impact of Industry 4.0, or smart manufacturing processes that make up the fourth industrial revolution.

“While there is an already acute demand for highly skilled employees in manufacturing, technology and the skilled trades, job openings in these sectors are expected to continue to increase,” a college press release stated. “In Macomb County over the next five years, anticipated growth spans a minimum of 1% for automated systems and robotics to 14% for 3-D modeling and design technology, with median annual earnings ranging from the mid $40,000 to low $80,000.”

A number of programs will be housed in the building including apprenticeships, computerized numerical control machining, drafting, computer-aided design, electronics and fluid power technology. Land surveying, media and communication arts, mechatronics, product development, robotics and welding also will be available.

The classrooms and lab spaces inside the new center are located near each other to mimic modern industry. The classrooms were built to encourage gathering and engagement among the students. The building also reflects current industrial settings where poorly lit, closed-in areas have been replaced by bright spaces with windows and natural light.

Nearly $15 million of the total project cost was a capital outlay appropriation from the state of Michigan, with the remaining approximately $30 million covered by the college’s capital projects fund. According to MCC President James Sawyer, the new Skilled Trades and Advanced Technology Center is the college’s largest renovation project to date.

“Today we’re taking a huge step forward supporting programs in advanced manufacturing, technology and the skilled trades,” Sawyer said. “The quality of our graduates and our commitment to the ongoing collaboration with industry keeps our programs in step with the evolution of how business and industry works.

“With the renovation, we’re creating a teaching and learning environment optimized for preparing our students for successful and smooth transition to high demand manufacturing, technology and skilled trades jobs,” Sawyer said. “We’re excited about the possibilities of correcting negative old school, outdated notions about what manufacturing and industrial workplaces look like. We’re looking forward to leveraging Macomb’s Skilled Trades and Advanced Technology Center to introduce middle and high school and their parents to a modern industry environment and the wealth of opportunities in these great careers.”

Sawyer said the credentials skilled trades students will earn are a “gateway to higher level degrees and jobs.” That includes moving from a certificate to an associate degree at Macomb, or continuing to earn a bachelor’s degree through one of Macomb’s university partners.

Lt. Governor Garlin Gilchrist II also addressed the crowd.

“It really is exciting to be here back on the campus of Macomb Community College. I do think Macomb has a particular identity that this project really illustrates,” Gilchrist said. “The state of Michigan is proud to be a partner in bringing something like this to fruition. The reason we are so invested is because we recognize that everyone who comes through this expanded and stronger and more vibrant facility, they’ll learn something about themselves.

“You come to learn a trade, you come to learn a particular set of techniques or a particular set of skills to get specific certifications that are very important to you and the community,” Gilchrist said. “What you will learn is that if you can imagine something and you can create something, that you can create anything. The students that walk through these halls, who use these machines, who learn from these very talented, skilled and experienced instructors, these are the kind of people who inspire the creative minds of Macomb and Michigan.

“When we invest in that, we are not only investing in the present vitality of this institution, but the future vitality of our economy,” Gilchrist said. “This was designed for Industry 4.0. I know this is the team that can make that happen.”

Congressman John James, R-Shelby Township, presented a certificate to Sawyer to recognize the completion of the renovated facility.

“I want to congratulate the college on their grand opening of the tech center. It’s wonderful to be here taking a big step toward building the workforce of the future,” James said.

James, a veteran who served in Iraq, alluded to the importance of providing skilled trades training to military veterans.

“The veterans’ entry into apprenticeship is just one way we can integrate with Macomb Community College and get our veterans back into our workforce,” James said. “Not just a profession, but a purpose to help reduce veterans suicide and increase our ability to serve and grow our nation and our economy.”

Macomb Community College Board of Trustees Chair Katherine Lorenzo and Macomb County Executive Mark Hackel also spoke during the event. After the ceremony, guests enjoyed a reception and toured the new building, which included classroom demonstrations.

The project’s architects were Hobbs+Black Architects, based in Ann Arbor. Barton Marlow, which has several offices including Detroit and Southfield, was the construction manager.

At press time, the new semester was scheduled to begin Aug. 21.