HASTINGS — Central Community College–Hastings students have the opportunity to do more hands-on learning related to industry thanks to a renovation project.
The college hosted a ribbon-cutting ceremony Thursday for the renovated Hamilton Building, which is home to the Hastings campus’ advanced manufacturing design technology (AMDT) and welding technology programs. A 17,000-square-foot addition was constructed on the south side of the existing facility to house the AMDT program. A 15,000-square-foot renovation of the existing building followed and it houses the welding technology program.
The total cost of the project is $10.3 million — with $5.3 million coming from college reserves and the other half coming from donations. The $5 million donation goal was met six months ahead of schedule, moving up the groundbreaking to September 2018.
Thursday’s ribbon-cutting ceremony marked the official opening of the welding technology wing of the Hamilton Building. The welding wing is the final phase of the project. The first phase, which expanded the space for CCC’s advanced manufacturing design technology program, was completed last year.
In an interview with The Independent following the ceremony, CCC-Hastings President Jerry Wallace said the renovated Hamilton Building has “much bigger” welding booths and provides more space for students to work. The building has state-of-the-art technology, which is a result of CCC’s talks with area industry partners.
“When this project was moving forward, we were talking to businesses and they gave us (information on) where the industry is moving and what kind of equipment they (students) would need,” Wallace said. “We wanted to make sure we replicated the workforce as much as possible. It doesn’t help our students if we have outdated equipment and things of that nature. So we have actually welcomed manufacturers and welding companies to come on campus to improve our students.”
CCC-Hastings student Justin Slawnyk of Utica said it is “awesome” to learn in the new Hamilton Building as the machines have been updated. He likes that CCC has partnered with area industries because once he enters the workforce, “it is basically like you are still in school.”
Dylan Vodicka of Geneva agreed.
“The machines are just a lot more updated,” Vodicka said. “They have a lot more settings compared to before. It is a lot more specific to what we are trying to do.”
In addition to advanced manufacturing design technology and welding technology, Wallace said the Hamilton Building will be used for continuing education programs.
“Hopefully, you can get trained up and use the facilities for that as well,” he said. “We also have special projects with a bunch of different manufacturers. People love the spatula or the ramen noodle bowl — the overall things we can hand out and show what our students have done on campus.”
Gov. Pete Ricketts spoke at the ceremony, noting how both CCC and Hastings have been leaders in helping the state work its way through the coronavirus pandemic and helping the state grow. The state was able to use a portion of its CARES Act dollars to establish a workforce training program that dedicated dollars to community colleges to help people whose jobs were impacted by the pandemic.
Ricketts thanked all of the donors who helped make the Hamilton Building project a reality.
“This is really an important part of how we continue to grow our state,” he said. “I have traveled around the state and the No. 1 thing employers say is, ‘I just cannot find enough people that are trained the way that I need them.’ So CCC is completing that puzzle board with this step right here to give a complete career pathway for our young people and make sure our employers have the people to hire that will keep our young people here in the state.”