Aug 05, 2023

STLCC breaks ground for Advanced Manufacturing Center

From left, Dr. Andrew Langrehr, STLCC Academic Affairs vice chancellor; state Sen. Brian Williams; Julie Massey, STLCC-Florissant Valley Student Success vice president; Elizabeth Perkins, STLCC-Florissant Valley president and chief academic officer; Jeff Pittman, STLCC chancellor; Dr. Sam Page, St. Louis County Executive; Hart Nelson, STLCC COO; Rodney Gee, STLCC board trustee; Mary Luebke, STLCC board Trustee; and Craig Larson, STLCC Board of Trustees chair, broke ground for the Advance manufacturing Center on the STLCC Flo-Valley campus on August 18, 2023.

Authors Bob Schwartz, a Harvard Graduate School of Education professor emeritus, and Rachel Lipson, executive director of the Project on Workforce at Harvard University, call community colleges “the workhorses of the American economy,” in a recent Barron’s commentary.

“Community colleges are responsible for the largest share of college graduates who move from poverty to wealth in a generation [and] play a critical role in driving regional economies and expanding access to jobs.”

St. Louis Community College continued its quest to uphold that standard when it broke ground for its Advanced Manufacturing Center on Friday August 18, 2023.

Bulldozers, construction trucks, and earth movers are now working on the project at STLCC-Florissant Valley, 3400 Pershall Road in Ferguson. It is one of six planned as part of the STLCC Transformed initiative.

The initiative’s goal is to bring the STLCC into “a more modern standing by providing facilities and programming for the growth and competitiveness of the region,” according to Elizabeth Gassel Perkins, Ed.D., campus president and chief academic officer of STLCC-Florissant.

“The Advanced Manufacturing Center features spaces that will galvanize workers interested in mastering engineering technology, biomedical electronic technology, precision machining, and other programs on specialized equipment and machinery,” she said.

“We are especially excited for our new geospatial technology courses, including drone flight, which will be housed in this new building.”

STLCC will purchase $3 million in advanced manufacturing equipment for the center’s classrooms and lab spaces by using funds it acquired through a regional coalition that won a U.S. Department of Commerce Economic Development Administration (EDA) Build Back Better Regional Challenge grant.

The St. Louis Tech Triangle won the $25-million grant in September 2022. A cornerstone of several projects is construction of a 130,000 square-foot Advanced Manufacturing Innovation Center (AMICSTL) in the Vandeventer neighborhood in North St. Louis, adjacent to Ranken Technical College.

Eyen Hoffman, who is working toward an associate degree in engineering science, said the center will provide STLCC students with additional opportunities and improved access to needed items.0

“It could be set up to organize workflow and have different storage compartments, cabinets, and various tools. Being able to navigate through the shop floor without having to duck around different parts of the machinery would be nice,” Hoffman said.

Tom McGovern, STEM dean, said STLCC-Florissant Valley has been involved in manufacturing and industry training since it was founded in the late 1960s.

“I had students who hung the wires on the [Stan] Musial bridge, placed the steel animals out front at the [St. Louis] Zoo; cut parts for the Georgia Dome [in Atlanta]; programmed rides at Six Flags over Mid-America, and [worked] so many other places,” he said.

“STLCC has continued to supply employees to Boeing, its parts suppliers, and other industries. Now more

than ever, the skills we will provide are in demand, and the opportunity is now. These careers are open to everyone no matter your current skill set. I encourage people to embrace the new technology and take advantage of the opportunities around them.”

The 96,000 square feet Advanced Manufacturing Center’s projected completion date is in December 2024, and the estimated cost is $61.1 million.

Among its key features are:

• Hands-on training to prepare students for high-demand careers in manufacturing, engineering, technology, and technical trades.

• An expanded Boeing pre-employment training program with dedicated sheet metal and fabrication classrooms.

• An area for Early College students (high schoolers) to take classes and study.

• Program visibility through large picture windows and glass walls to encourage safe and engaging tours for prospective students and the community.

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