Empowering Tomorrow's Workforce: Blackhawk Technical College's $7M Manufacturing Center Plan

Empowering Tomorrow's Workforce: Blackhawk Technical College's $7M Manufacturing Center Plan Main Photo

18 Jul 2023


Blackhawk Technical College (BTC) has unveiled an ambitious plan to establish a cutting-edge manufacturing center on its Central Campus in Janesville, bolstered by a generous $7 million contribution from the Blackhawk Technical College Foundation. The project, known as the Innovative Manufacturing Education Center (I-MEC), solidifies the college's commitment to providing outstanding education and training opportunities in the manufacturing sector. Expressing profound gratitude for the unwavering support of the Blackhawk Technical College Foundation, Dr. Tracy Pierner, President of Blackhawk, commented, "This new manufacturing center will enable us to continue delivering exceptional education and training opportunities that align with industry demands, ensuring our students are well-prepared for success in the workforce."

Specialized Programs in the cards at the I-MEC

The I-MEC will be a focal point of innovation, boasting state-of-the-art technology and resources to facilitate immersive, hands-on learning experiences for students in various specialized programs. These programs will encompass Automation Systems Technology, Computer Numeric Control Technician, Electro-Mechanical Technology, Industrial Maintenance Mechanic, Manufacturing Engineering Technology, Welding & Fabrication, and HVAC-R.

Blackhawk’s manufacturing programs are housed at the Advanced Manufacturing Training Center in Milton, previously owned by the Blackhawk Foundation. In May, the Foundation sold the property to KANDU Industries. The proceeds from this sale will contribute to constructing the new facility at Central Campus. “This gift will launch a new initiative to greatly enhance the number of students pursuing manufacturing career pathways,” said Dave Holterman, President of the Blackhawk Foundation Board. “It will also support a collaboration with our industry partners and faculty, ensuring that these students are equipped with the skills and training needed to fulfill the workforce challenges the manufacturing sector is facing now and into the future.”

Innovative education that caters to the needs of diverse communities in Wisconsin: Colleen Koerth

Colleen Koerth, Manager of Workforce Development at Blackhawk Technical College, discussed the institution's dedication to embracing innovative education that caters to diverse communities in Wisconsin. "Like our current Advanced Manufacturing Training Center, Blackhawk Technical College's new I-MEC will offer a range of flexible learning options that meet the diverse needs of our students, including part-time, evening, and online classes. The center will include flexible lab options to ensure students with varying schedules get the hands-on learning opportunities needed to succeed,” Koerth said. 

Koerth also said that the I-MEC's role in fostering economic growth and creating employment opportunities for Beloit residents and surrounding areas was crucial. She stated that by partnering with local industries and employers, BTC would develop programs and curricula aligned with workforce needs, preparing students for job market demands.

Regarding how the manufacturing center will contribute to bridging the skills gap in the industry and meeting evolving workforce's demands, Colleen Koerth emphasized, "At Blackhawk, our curriculum bridges the gap between theoretical knowledge and practical application. By staying current with industry trends, technological advancements, and emerging skills requirements, our instructors equip students to succeed in the evolving manufacturing sector. Additionally, the college offers avenues for continuous education and upskilling."

Construction to be completed by Fall 2024

The construction of the I-MEC, scheduled to commence in September, is expected to be completed by the fall of 2024. Angus Young will handle the facility's design and architectural work, while JP Cullen will be responsible for the construction.

With the construction of the I-MEC, Blackhawk Technical College is poised to reinforce its position as a leading institution for manufacturing education and training, driving economic growth, and equipping students with the skills necessary to thrive in the dynamic job market of the future. This meaningful initiative underscores the dedication of BTC and its partners to provide an exceptional learning environment and empower the workforce of tomorrow. Explore various programs and classes offered by the College here

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