PHCC Opens Manufacturing and Engineering Technology Complex
Submitted by Amanda Broome, Communications Specialist and Social Media Manager, Patrick Henry Community College
After 10 years of planning and fundraising, Patrick Henry Community College cut the ribbon on its new 53,000 square foot facility designed to train future leaders in advanced manufacturing and applied engineering. By combining $5.8 million of state, local, and grant funds, PHCC turned an existing metal building into a state-of-the-art facility that the college is calling the Manufacturing, Engineering, and Technology Complex, or simply, “The MET.”
During the grand opening ceremony in late October, community members, business partners, and students got a look inside.
As the doors opened, guests encountered the spacious, modern foyer and glass-fronted classrooms filled with a menagerie of high-tech machines. Glass, stone, and metal décor give the MET a modern style. The open spaces enable students to congregate freely. A mezzanine overhead will allow potential business partners to observe the students’ hands-on training.
Only a few days after the grand opening, students began classes in the new facility. In the massive garage packed with specialized equipment, Motorsports students began learning chassis dynamics, engine machining, and metal fabrication. The garage is lined with pull down rigs, racing simulators, CNC machines, and race cars in various stages of completion.
On the STEM and manufacturing side, students began learning robotics, computer-aided drafting and design, industrial control systems, and mechatronics. To make all of this high-tech learning possible, the Industrial Electronics and General Engineering Technologies classrooms are equipped with leading-edge industry-standard equipment worth more than $1.85 million.
College President Dr. Angeline Godwin says she sees the complex as both a space where the college’s manufacturing and STEM programs can continue to grow and as a tool for economic development.
“The programs that will occur [in the MET] have really out grown the space where they were housed on the main campus. With more space and better equipment, we can begin graduating more and better-prepared employees for our community’s workforce.”
For more specialized economic development, the college created a “flex space.” This large, open, hanger-like room is outfitted with drop cords, compressed air, and a wash of natural light. But for now, the room is empty – on purpose. With that open space, companies can bring in their new equipment to have students train directly on their specialized machines.
The project cost $5.8 million, although the college did not spend any day-to-day operating funds to complete it. Instead, most of the purchases were handled with state funds and appropriations. In addition, PHCC received a $600,000 grant from the Tobacco Region Revitalization Commission and $600,000 from the localities serviced by the college. With these funds, PHCC was able to turn an old building shell into a new state-of-the-art facility for education and business development.
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