Western Technical College held a Grand Opening event on Wednesday for the newly completed Integrated Technology Center.
The building is located at 325 8th Street North. A brief ribbon-cutting ceremony began at 1 p.m., followed by an open house with refreshments and tours of the facility.
In true manufacturing fashion. a chain cutting ceremony took place, rather than a ribbon cutting ceremony to official mark the completion of the building process.
Lee Rasch, President of Western Technical College said new student enrollment in Integrated Technology programs is up 22 percent this fall, which has been a trend.
"Today, it feels like it's all worth while and then some. Manufacturing careers are really promising right now in terms of wages and opportunities," said Rasch.
The new structure brings together 6 programs that were spread out in different locations before, creating a new space for a total of 25 manufacturing programs to help prepare students for the workforce.
The Integrated Technology Center is the largest of Western's referendum-funded facilities projects. The renovation and expansion of the former two-story Applied Technology Center has created an advanced manufacturing center and new spaces for more than 25 programs. The fourth floor houses the college's new initiative to offer on-site academies to local high schools, allowing juniors and seniors to earn college credits.
Stephanie Runkle, a student in the Architectural Technology Program said the new structure allows students to get hands on learning experiences. Seeing first-hand
"We have open mechanical systems within the walls and in the ceiling that allow us to be able to say, hey what's this? Hey, where does this go? How's this working? And that's priceless," expressed Runkle.
"I mean there are other LEED Platinum buildings in Wisconsin, but typically they're a classroom building or an office building. Nothing that has this much mechanical horsepower with all the industrial and integrated technology programs that we have here. So I'm really proud, it really took a lot of thoughtful design and integrated design to make that work," added Rasch.
The celebration also included a Manufacturing and Trades Career Fair, from 2 until 5 p.m. at the Lunda Center, 319 7th Street North. Offering an chance for employers looking to hire manufacturing-related positions to talk about career opportunities at their organizations.
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