GEORGETOWN, Ky. (WTVQ) – A new, $24 million educational building in Georgetown will allow Bluegrass Community & Technical College to prepare more students for well-paying jobs in the automotive and other sectors of Kentucky’s growing manufacturing industry.
The Advanced Manufacturing Center, which was built by Messer Construction Co., opened this week to about 400 BCTC students in Georgetown. That number includes more than 60 students enrolled in the Advanced Manufacturing Technician Program (AMT), which allows sponsored students to work three days a week for a manufacturer and attend classes for two days a week.
“We’ve waited a long time for this day,” said Mark Manuel, BCTC’s vice president of advancement and organizational development. “This beautiful, new building actually was designed in 2007, but with the economic recession, there was no funding to complete it. Now, with the economy bouncing back and continued growth in manufacturing in this region, we were able to make this center a reality.”
Messer Construction broke ground on the 78,000-square-foot center in spring 2015 and worked on a rapid schedule to ensure it would be open for January classes. The facility was designed by Omni Architects.
The new center allowed BCTC to relocate its AMT program and equipment from the nearby Toyota Motor Manufacturing, Kentucky campus.
The new, high-tech facility also now houses manufacturing-related programs that had been based at other BCTC campuses, including industrial maintenance, electronics, industrial electricity, robotics, mechanical drives, fluid power, machining and welding.
Customized workforce training for business development will be offered, as well as traditional general education courses to support residents from Georgetown / Scott County and the surrounding communities.
“The completion of this highly awaited project will become a catalyst for future development of our Lanes Run Park, but equally important, continue the great regional economic development efforts to make sure we meet the needs of our manufacturing partners,” said Jack Conner, executive director of the Georgetown/Scott County Chamber of Commerce.
The Advanced Manufacturing Center includes space for traditional classes and some meeting space, but a unique component of the facility is the flexible high-bay area equipped with modern manufacturing equipment such as computers, robotics and other electronics. The high-bay area and industrial-looking design of the entire center are intended to help students become comfortable in manufacturing settings.
Students, faculty and staff at the campus will follow safety protocols to further familiarize them with manufacturing settings. They will wear appropriate personal protective equipment and follow rules that are standard across today’s advanced manufacturing companies.
Danette Wilder, president of the Bluegrass Chapter of the Kentucky Federation for Advanced Manufacturing Education (KYFAME), said BCTC’s investment in the center supports KYFAME’s goal to create a pipeline of highly skilled workers.
KYFAME is a partnership of regional manufacturers working to implement an advanced manufacturing work/study program through partnerships with local educational institutions. KYFAME helped create the AMT program and helps promote participation among Kentucky manufacturers and potential students.
Wilder, President and CEO of Lexington-based SealingLife Technology, added that the AMT program is a major stepping stone toward victory for both students and employers across Kentucky.
“Maintaining a reliable and capable workforce is one of the greatest challenges for manufacturers today,” Wilder said. “This program provides a cost-effective solution for employers to find good workers while helping students prepare for successful careers in manufacturing.”
For more information on the Advanced Manufacturing Center and the AMT program, visit http://bluegrass.kctcs.edu.