A new building on the Millennium Campus will focus on growing and training the region’s advanced manufacturing workforce.
The institution, known as the Center for Manufacturing Innovation, is being created through a partnership between Clemson University and Greenville Technical College.
It will be built next to Clemson University International Center for Automotive Research with groundbreaking tentatively set for early summer 2014.
The CMI was announced Tuesday when leaders gathered at CU-ICAR to “celebrate another important partnership with Greenville Technical College to provide the advanced manufacturing workforce education our community needs,” according to Jim Barker, retiring Clemson University president.
The CMI will educate the workforce to serve the automotive, transportation and other high-tech sectors.
An intent has been to “better meet the needs of manufacturers in our area, so that those companies can continue to move our economy forward,” said Keith Miller, president of Greenville Tech.
“By collaborating with Clemson University as we also work closely with Greenville County Schools we have education in the Upstate serving as a powerful and united force for workforce development,” he said.
Miller said the concept for the center evolved after he was approached by manufacturers two years ago who expressed a need to increase the number of skilled workers and the level of workers’ training.
“Their businesses have been picking up and because the complexities of the machines in a modern manufacturing center require a higher skill level than they ever have before, they expressed a need for more highly trained workers,” Miller said.
The center also will provide manufacturers with a place to build their own prototypes rather than shipping that business out of state or outside the country. And space will be available there for start-ups in light manufacturing industry.
The start-ups will have the expertise of the faculty at Greenville Tech and Clemson University, as well as “access to our machines and everything,” Miller said.
As those start-ups graduate from the center, the goal is to locate them in Greenville County to continue to grow and to hire local people, Miller said.
Greenville County Council approved a $25 million bond issue for Greenville Tech to build the enterprise campus in September. That pushed the joint effort between the two institutions forward.
A lot of the advanced manufacturing education already being offered by Greenville Tech will continue to exist and expand.
“The CMI will provide an expansion of the space that we already have on existing campuses, but in addition to that, it will have the Clemson University partnership, manufacturers working side by side with the students, and entrepreneurs working side by side with the students, so that’s the unique component,” Miller said.
Students will be able to enter the CMI and either exit with a certificate to get a job, stay two years and get an associate degree, or continue on to graduate at the baccalaureate level with Clemson, Miller said.
Additionally, engineers and technicians working in the industry will be able to come to the center to upgrade their existing skills, he said.