By Jenee Gregor
The Occupation Education building closed off and guarded by security, was prepared for a visit from Gov. Rick Snyder for the unveiling of new equipment in the Skilled Trades Education Department. The podium was set up for speeches and a “thank you” for the generous grant that was given to Washtenaw Community College to grow the skilled trades education program.
CCSTEP stands for the Community College Skilled Trades Equipment Program, which is $50 million in grants that go to colleges that are earning their grants through community outreach and growth in their programs.
Last year, WCC received $4.4 million in a grant to update their equipment to state-of-the-art and up-to-date machinery that is used in the current job market.
AKS Cutting Systems donated ProNest 2017 software to the college during the ceremony, valued at $150,000, to be used in conjunction with the AKS plasma cutter/welder.
“The CCSTEP was geared to get up-to-date equipment, because in many cases over the years the equipment had become dated…and another big part of it was to get partnerships to happen with the companies themselves,” said Gov. Snyder. “When they (AKS) made the gift they said ‘come out and visit’, and that’s really part of the next step is to continue that engagement. The more that people connect the more they can feel confident going into the job market.”
When asked about what is next in the fields of manufacturing and where the education and industry is headed after this program, and the future for Michigan’s manufacturing there is excitement about intelligent vehicles.
“There is a convergence going on with the intelligent vehicles, the manufacturing world and the IT world are one world, it’s all combine where we can get people to open their minds to create new and wonderful products,” said Gov. Snyder.
More than 37 new pieces of equipment were added to the Occupational education programs. The machinery went into the automotive body repair department, advanced manufacturing technologies department, automotive services department, and welding and fabrication.
Some of the new equipment were 3D printers, TIG welders, plasma cutting systems, lasers cutters and more.