MCCC tech center construction nears

By Monroe Evening News staff, last modified January 25. 2011 11:24AM

Monroe County Community College said it expects to start construction in July on a new $17 million career technology center south of the Welch Health Education building on its S. Raisinville Rd. campus.

College trustees voted unanimously Monday night to use $8.5 million in reserve funds and gifts it has received to meet the college’s 50 percent match of state money needed for the construction of the 71,300-square-foot facility.

The money will be combined with $8,499,800 in State Building Authority funds for the project that legislators okayed in December. The facility is expected to be completed in September, 2012, college officials said.

“The new Career Technology Center will dramatically increase MCCC’s instructional capacity for existing and new technology programs in response to the needs of our existing local business and industry,” said William J. Bacarella, chairman of the board of trustees.

“And, this new facility will be an important economic development tool for Monroe County as we market Monroe to companies in emerging energy and automotive technologies – wind, solar, nuclear and battery.”

He said the building will have the flexibility to adapt to changing instructional and employers needs for local companies like DTE Energy, Ventower Industries and others.

The new building will provide infrastructure to support state-of-the-art classrooms and lab space train students for jobs expected to be in demand, and will allow for the updating and expansion of existing programs now housed in the East and West Technology buildings, which college officials said are inadequate to meet modern technology needs.

These programs include nuclear engineering, welding, construction, computer-aided drafting and manufacturing, electronics, quality assurance, and automotive engineering and service with an emphasis on hybrid and battery technology.

In addition, the new center will provide facilities and equipment needed to develop programs in the emerging areas of advanced manufacturing; alternative energies such as wind, solar and fuel cell technology, and sustainable and green technologies.

Under the same resolution that made the funds available, the college board authorized the intent of the college and The Foundation at MCCC to move forward on a capital campaign that will allow MCCC to adjust the contribution amounts between college reserves and gifts while still providing its $8.5 million share of the cost of constructing the center.

Mr. Bacarella said that he believes Gov. Rick Snyder’s support of the idea of building a new bridge from Detroit to Canada, plus DTE Energy’s efforts to get federal permission to build a new nuclear plant near Newport underscore the need for the new career center.

“When that occurs and those projects begin, Monroe County will be at the virtual epicenter of two of the largest construction projects in the state, the region and the nation,” he said. “MCCC must be ready, and with this building, we will be.”

The single-story building will have high-bay technical labs designed as flexible spaces that can be reconfigured as programs and training needs evolve. Each of the labs will have access to adjacent labs in related disciplines and to the exterior via high bay doors that will allow for delivery of specialized equipment. Access to the exterior also will provide opportunities for larger-format demonstration equipment like solar arrays, geothermal well fields and wind turbine equipment.

The building also will contain traditional classroom spaces and labs, administrative functions and faculty offices.

All materials and systems in the center will be selected with the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) rating system in mind.

“The significance of having solar, battery storage and, hopefully, wind integrated into the campus and overall grid in our region should not be underestimated,” said Gregory Adanin, chief executive officer of Ventower, which is building a plant to make wind-turbine towers near the Port of Monroe.

“This is truly the cutting-edge technology of integrating renewable sources of power alongside traditional nuclear and fossil sources of generation right here in Monroe, Michigan, while making our power grid more reliable and efficient for all,” he said.

“The board of trustees made another historic higher education decision for Monroe County tonight when they voted for the construction of the Career Technology Center, which will be located within walking distance of the new $3-million Detroit Edison solar installation being constructed on MCCC’s campus,” said David E. Nixon, MCCC president.

“This facility will serve as a model for the teaching of alternative energy programs,” he said. “The planning and vision that have gone into making the Career Technology Center a reality are a testament to the dedication our trustees, faculty and staff have to the future of Monroe County.”

The project is now in the preliminary design development phase and subject to approval of the state’s Department of Management and Budget – Facilities Administration. If approved, the college will move on to final design, bidding and contract award, also all subject to state approval.

It’s estimated that the project will create 100 temporary construction jobs.


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