ST. CLOUD (WJON News) - A “Game-Changing” lab broke ground Wednesday at St. Cloud Technical and Community College.

The Advanced Manufacturing Training Lab will add over 8000 square feet of space to SCTCC, and allow the Energy and Electronics program to go from teaching 24 students to 48.

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Minnesota Senator Tina Smith says the new lab is the result of a community-wide effort to bring advanced training to the area.

I give great credit to the broad St. Cloud community and St. Cloud State and St. Cloud tech, for really grabbing on to the need to invest in this kind of training and certification program. I think it really is a statewide model. Years ago, we were still talking about how important it was for everybody to go get a four year degree somewhere. We increasingly are acting on the understanding that there are all sorts of great career opportunities that they don't all necessarily require a four year degree.

MN Senator Tina Smith. Photo by Jeff McMahon, WJON
MN Senator Tina Smith. Photo by Jeff McMahon, WJON

Smith believes the U.S. is starting a “renaissance in manufacturing”, and advanced labs like the one planned at SCTCC will help train students for those jobs.

And that requires that we have people with the training to be able to go right into those great jobs. The connection between this lab and the jobs that are available right now in this community is so strong that I think that it will be well worth everybody's while to come here and get that training.

SCTCC Interim President Lori Kloos says the new lab’s a game-changer. It will allow several departments to work together and allow students to learn from other students in other disciplines.

It's a game changer, because we would not have been able to do this on our own, we would not be able to expand the facility and have the space to bring in $2.4 million worth of equipment that is state of the art. That really provides us the ability to train our students in a new way, and so it changes how we approach instruction. It changes how we interact with our business and industry partners and then how we get our students trained and out into the workforce as soon as we can.

SCTCC Interim President Lori Kloos. Photo by Jeff McMahon, WJON.
(l to r): Minnesota State Chancellor Devinder Malhotra, St. Cloud Mayor Dave Kleis, SCTCC Sign Interpreter, Mn Senator Tina Smith, SCTCC Interim President Lori Kloos. Photo by Jeff McMahon, WJON.

Officials expect the Advanced Training Manufacturing Lab at SCTCC to start welcoming students in the fall of 2023.

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