July 18, 2014
Thirteen years ago, Aiken Technical College and its still-new president, Dr. Susan Winsor, dedicated the opening of the Manufacturing and Technology Training Center on campus.
On Thursday, ATC held a groundbreaking event for the future Center for Energy and Advanced Manufacturing – a facility intended to bring the college and the community further into the 21st century. Winsor once again hosted the ceremony. The new center will complement the 2001 facility – constructing new housing for programs in the areas of technology, manufacturing and energy.
“We have a vision of more than just the construction of a building on campus,” Winsor said.
“It’s designed to be a focal point for the current economic revitalization in the county. The center will reflect our community’s commitment to bringing high-paying careers to our area.”
The facility will include mechatronics, welding, radiation protection technology and nuclear quality systems programs.
During the ceremony, Winsor praised the contributions of S.C. Rep. Roland Smith, R-Warrenville, who is retiring from the S.C. General Assembly after 26 years in office.
“We couldn’t have asked for a better advocate,” Winsor said in presenting a proclamation to the legislator. She cited the contributions of Smith and retired S.C. Sen. Greg Ryberg, R-Aiken. They led the county delegation’s efforts to secure a $2.4 million allocation toward the new facility in 2012.
Smith considers this latest project the “icing on the cake” during his government service.
“We must continue to improve our education opportunities,” he said. “Aiken Technical College is a giant in our community, doing tremendous things. It’s doing what is needed to provide the training that businesses and industry need.”
Winsor cited other financial supporters of the project. The U.S. Economic Development Administration provided a $2.6 million grant. A $2 million match was needed, and the ATC Foundation established a capital campaign, raising about 94 percent of the match requirement so far.
At the national level, Bridgestone donated $250,000. John Stewart, the Bridgestone plant manager in Aiken, cited the company’s engagement in the community and its investment in the workforce.
Other speakers included Fred Humes, director emeritus of the Aiken-Edgefield Economic Development Partnership.
“We have seen Aiken Technical College grow, not only through a good partnership, but an evolving partnership.,” Humes said. “Without ATC, we would be not where we are now with the number of high-quality manufacturers we have in Aiken County.”
For the past five years, Dave Deal has served as an ATC instructor in the nuclear and skills trades program. The college has done well with its older facilities, but they are ending their usefulness, he said.
“This is a fantastic opportunity,” said Deal. “We now are showing the community how we’re trying to address its needs. This is a testament that local industry and its support of the program is an acknowledgment (of that).”
The facility also will offer multi-use classrooms and opportunities for community gatherings, Deal said.