Grand Rapids Community College will create a state-of-the-art Center for Automation, serving as a training hub for students pursuing high-demand jobs in advanced manufacturing and automation, as well as those already working in the field who need additional training or credentials for promotion.
U.S. Senator Gary Peters and U.S. Rep. Hillary Scholten announced the $998,000 project on Friday in GRCC’s Leslie Tassell MTEC, where the center is planned to start operating in time for the winter 2023 semester.
Peters secured $998,000 through the government funding bill signed into law in December to create the project, which will enhance GRCC’s extensive career training programs geared towards the future of manufacturing in Michigan, and support the college’s efforts to meet regional workforce demands.
“The fields of automation and artificial intelligence are evolving and expanding, creating new and exciting careers to meet the needs of today and drive change for the future,” GRCC President Charles Lepper said. “GRCC is proud to work with our partners in the government, like Senator Peters, and with employers for an Automation and AI Lab that will help build a talented workforce, give people valuable skills and strengthen the economy in West Michigan and beyond.”
Lepper led Peters and Scholten on a tour of the workforce training center, joined by Neil Ruster, CEO of Urgent Tool and Machine. The Grand Rapids firm is one GRCC’s industry partners in regional workforce development.
“Grand Rapids Community College excels at preparing students for successful careers and obtaining good-paying, in-demand jobs, and with employers based right here in West Michigan,” Peters said. “I was proud to secure new federal resources to create a new, state-of-the-art, and fully automated training facility that will help elevate GRCC’s skills training programs and support their efforts to cement Michigan’s leadership in advanced manufacturing.”
The high-impact, local project that will support GRCC’s efforts to meet local, regional, and statewide workforce needs by preparing students for current and future jobs, including as automotive technicians, computer support technicians, construction electricians, machinist/CNC technicians, welding/fabrication technicians, and medical assistants.
“Investment in education is critical to the future of our country and state. Grand Rapids Community College has long led the charge of making quality, world-class education affordable and accessible for West Michiganders – I’m happy to see that tradition continuing on,” Scholten said. “Investment in our students and in the next generation is so important – it’s a priority in West Michigan. I’m eager to get to work on projects and initiatives like these in the future in collaboration with Senator Peters and my colleagues from the Michigan delegation.”
Peters has worked to expand skills training opportunities, including in STEM education, to strengthen our nation’s economic competitiveness and help place more Michiganders in needed, good-paying jobs.
He previously helped enact bipartisan legislation that included provisions he authored to expand access to career and technical education opportunities outside of the traditional four-year degree career pathway.
Peters also authored bipartisan legislation into law to allow more veterans to use their GI bill benefits toward securing a registered apprenticeship. Peters additionally helped pass significant funding through the government funding bill signed into law in December for workforce development programs and registered apprenticeships across the country.