Technical college opens manufacturing innovation center

Greenville Technical College (GTC) has opened the Gene Haas Center for Manufacturing Innovation (CMI) to bring more skilled workers into the manufacturing industry.

By Greenville Technical Center September 23, 2016

Greenville Technical College (GTC) has opened the Gene Haas Center for Manufacturing Innovation (CMI). The idea for the CMI grew out of discussions to address the concerns from advanced manufacturers about the lack of skilled workers. Greenville County Council supported the initiative by approving $25 million in bonds to build the campus, and state government provided additional support for equipment.

The goal for the CMI is to increase the number of skilled workers for manufacturing in order to close the skills gap that has hampered the progress of many employers in upstate South Carolina. The average salary of manufacturing workers with an associate degree in Greenville County is $63,936. Yet despite the opportunities, as workers retire in record numbers, there are too few younger workers to replace them.

The CMI will showcase the robotics and electronics used in manufacturing today and the extremely high skill level required to be part of the workforce. Hands-on activities will engage visitors of all ages.

The CMI is also designed to meet the needs of older adults who are changing careers. Some of these individuals will need to brush up on skills as they return to the classroom. The CMI offers contextualized learning so that adult learners can improve in the basics as they are immersed in the manufacturing curriculum. Many of these students will continue to work as they gain job skills, and a modularized curriculum will meet their needs, allowing them to stop out as required and to re-enter easily.

CMI brings many firsts to advanced manufacturing education. The involvement of Clemson University (CU) as a partner, which is designed to bridge the gap between the education of the technician and the education of the engineer. Educational offerings will be integrated. A manufacturing honors college, which will allow GTC and CU students to work together to solve real world manufacturing challenges, is also featured.

Programs will be offered in a variety of formats, from continuing education workshops and shorter certificate programs to two-year associate degrees and beyond. Offerings will include machine tool technology, CNC, robotics, and mechatronics. Additive manufacturing will be incorporated into the curriculum for machine tool technology and CNC students and will also be offered through continuing education classes for working engineers and technicians.

“Using traditional methods to increase the pipeline of qualified workers for advanced manufacturing just won’t work,” said Dr. Keith Miller, president of Greenville Technical College. “In Greenville County, we are taking a new approach with the Center for Manufacturing Innovation, breaking traditions and innovating to close the skills gap. I am grateful to see this strong and concerted effort by educators, employers, government, and other leaders. I know that the upstate and South Carolina will benefit.”

– Edited from a Greenville Technical College press release by CFE Media. See more Control Engineering education and training stories.