St. Petersburg College unveiled its new Collaborative Center for Emerging Technologies Friday morning at the Clearwater Campus.
It is housed on the property that was recently purchased just northwest of the campus.
Florida Colleges Chancellor Randy Hanna was on hand for the ceremony, along with SPC President Bill Law, Board of Trustees member Robert Fine, State Sen. Dennis Jones and State Representatives Ed Hooper of Clearwater and Larry Ahern of Seminole.
The center is an open manufacturing factory and work environment where tomorrow’s engineering technology and manufacturing employees will be trained. It will be open Monday when the college’s fall session begins.
Industry partners work closely with the college to secure funding and to provide technical expertise, materials and equipment. Many of the partners attended the morning gathering.
“The nice thing about manufacturing is we can get you into productive work quickly,” Law said. “Not everything has to be two-year or four-year degrees. We can do it as quickly as 16 weeks. We will have people start Monday (Aug. 20) and be done by Christmas.”
Brad Jenkins, Associate Dean of Engineering Technology, was beaming that his project had finally come to fruition. “The support of Dr. Law and the Board of Trustees has been outstanding. You couldn’t ask for anything more.”
Jenkins said the job market is very good for graduates of his program. “We have a great pipeline to get our students employed through our partnerships.”
Hanna praised the college on many fronts, going back to its founding in 1927. “No college has done it as well as St. Petersburg College,” he said.
A 2010 survey shows the role manufacturing plays in the county. Manufacturing employed 30,000 people in Pinellas County, making it the fourth largest industry in the county. The county also ranks second in the state for manufacturing employment and third for the number of manufacturing firms.
While technology has greatly improved the manufacturing process, employees now need cutting-edge skills. Thousands of manufacturing jobs go unfilled each year because of a lack of qualified candidates, according to the Manufacturing Institute. By simulating skills needed in emerging technologies, the center will prepare students for immediate and profitable employment in business and industry while giving them education credentials for advancement.
SPC’s Associate of Science Degree in Engineering Technology –the first in Florida – has been adopted by 11 other colleges in the state and serves as a national model for other states.