Greenville Technical College: Education Collaboration to Meet Employer Needs
Greenville Technical College and Clemson University announced in November 2013 an agreement to educate the advanced manufacturing workforce to serve the automotive, transportation, and other high-tech sectors. According to a memorandum of understanding signed by Greenville Technical College President, Dr. Keith Miller, and James Barker, then president of Clemson University, the vision is for collaboration between a leading research university, an innovative technical college, and advanced manufacturers, creating a center that enhances the development and implementation of advanced manufacturing technologies.
The Center for Manufacturing Innovation (CMI) will offer education designed to meet industry needs, including dual credit programs in partnership with the local school district, bridge programs that allow a student to move from associate degree to bachelor's degree, and workforce training and certificate programs that increase the qualifications of manufacturing employees.
Research for innovation in advanced manufacturing and future technologies related to advanced manufacturing will be incorporated into instruction. This will allow students to gain practical experience working alongside experienced engineers, faculty, and staff.
The center will engage K-12 students and show them the possibilities that exist in advanced manufacturing careers through dual enrollment programs, tours, camps, and open houses.
From an economic development perspective, Upstate South Carolina leaders have said that the economic development race will be won by communities that offer the services manufacturers need. To help companies compete globally, employers require a flexible, highly-skilled workforce equipped to maximize new technologies, adapt to evolving production processes and work organization models, and solve problems rapidly.
In addition to creating a skilled workforce, the Center for Manufacturing Innovation will offer landing pad space to help companies start up or relocate, and will provide flexible space where manufacturers can create prototypes and teach their current employees new skills to keep them on the cutting edge of improvements in technology.
The idea for the campus began with the needs of employers. As the concept developed, leaders with area manufacturers, including BMW, Michelin, GE, Bosch Rexroth, ADEX Machining Technologies, League Manufacturing, JTEKT Koyo, Fabri-Kal, SpecFab Services, Master PT, Standard Motor Products, and more, voiced strong support for the project and have provided input that has allowed plans for a Center for Manufacturing Innovation to take shape.
In September 2013, Greenville County Council unanimously approved a $25 million bond issue for Greenville Technical College to build an enterprise campus. A site selection firm considered a number of locations across the county and these locations were presented to Greenville Technical College's governing board, the Greenville County Commission for Technical and Higher Education. The chosen site, adjacent to the Clemson University International Center for Automotive Research (CU-ICAR), was selected for its proximity to partners, visibility, and land features.
"Our intent as we have worked toward the creation of this Center for Manufacturing Innovation has been to better meet the needs of manufacturers in our area, so that those companies can continue to move our economy forward," said Dr. Keith Miller, president of Greenville Technical College. "By collaborating with Clemson University as we also work closely with Greenville County Schools, we have education in Upstate South Carolina serving as a powerful and united force for workforce development."
Groundbreaking for the project is expected later this year, and plans are to open the center in 2015.