Mercer County Community College (MCCC) rolled out the latest in high-technology workforce development programs, highlighted by the ribbon cutting on the college’s new $1.2 million, 3,000-square-foot Advanced Manufacturing Laboratory on the West Windsor Campus.
“As technology changes the way we live and work, Mercer County Community College is committed to leading the way we educate our future workforce,” said MCCC President Dr. Jianping Wang. “We want our students to learn what their future employers expect them to know while they are with us, not after they leave.”
More than 100 individuals attended the event, including state, county, and local elected officials from throughout the region, New Jersey Labor and Workforce Development Commissioner Aaron Fichtner, Mercer County Executive Brian M. Hughes, and Mercer County Freeholder Chair Pat Colavita, as well as dozens of representatives from Mercer County business and industry.
The Advanced Manufacturing Laboratory is a first of its kind in the region, with the next closest facility located in Camden. The state-of-the art laboratory features vertical and horizontal mills, Computer Numerically Controlled (CNC) mills, lathes, CNC lathes, drill presses, vertical and horizontal band saws, surface grinder and power press. Students now have the option of earning a degree in Advanced Manufacturing Technology, a program that began with the Fall 2017 semester.
“Employers need to be able to find qualified candidates, and that’s especially true in manufacturing, which has become a highly technical field,” Hughes said. “This new facility will enable our students to develop the skills they need to succeed, benefitting our business community and making county even stronger.”
Groundbreaking for the laboratory was in August 2016. It is the first major construction project on the West Windsor Campus since the Welcome Center was built in 2009. Funding for the project was made possible through the Building Our Future Bond Act, approved by New Jersey voters in 2012.
In addition to the new Advanced Manufacturing Laboratory, the event highlighted MCCC’s new high-definition digital production and broadcast studio, made possible by a four-year, $100,000 grant from Dow Jones. MCCC’s Television and Digital Film students now have the opportunity to gain real-world experience in live, mobile production, and will be using the unit to broadcast and live stream local sporting events this fall, beginning with a Robbinsville High School football game on Oct. 27. The unit was used to live stream the ribbon cutting event on YouTube. View the video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qapT21hh3pE
MCCC also showcased two brand new programs designed to give students real-world experience and skills: The new Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS), or drone pilot certification program, and the Domain Tech Academy@Mercer. Both programs give students the ability to immediately transfer their learning experience to employment opportunities, and in some cases, qualify for paid internships.
The Domain Tech Academy, a partnership with Domain Computer Services, is a full-service operation located on the West Windsor Campus providing computer technical support for home, small business, and commercial customers. Paid student interns, under the supervision of Domain engineers, provide diagnostic and repair services for personal computers, hourly and contract technical support for businesses, and Smart Home services.
“Our partnership with MCCC is an innovative, collaborative effort between a local community college looking to ensure their students’ success and a local business providing quality, affordable services within the community,” said Rashaad Bajwa, CEO and president of Domain Computer Services.
The UAS program, which begins Oct. 24 with MCCC’s seven-week session, is a cooperative partnership with ABJ Drones. ABJ will provide instructors and the latest in hands-on drone technology for the program, and will include MCCC students in the company’s network of commercial drone pilots, with opportunities for employment upon completion of the UAS curriculum.
“Drones are a technological game changer in the way we solve problems, conduct business, innovate and view our world,” said Vip Jain, CEO of ABJ Drones, noting that Mercer County has the infrastructure to become a major drone hub. “We are on the cusp of a paradigm shift driven by the use of drones.”