The County College of Morris held a groundbreaking ceremony Wednesday to mark the upcoming start of construction of an $11 million Advanced Manufacturing and Engineering Center.
The building was funded by the State of New Jersey, Morris County and private donors. It is scheduled to open in spring 2020.
“This new facility, like all our buildings, is more than a structure,” College President Anthony Iacono said. “It is a resource for the community. As such, it is intended to support regional manufacturers by providing an innovative and inspiring learning environment where today’s students become tomorrow’s engineers. It will allow CCM to expand upon its work of producing a pipeline of skilled workers. And, equally important, it provides a home-base for all regional manufacturers who seek to ensure that their current employees have the opportunity to engage in cutting-edge training so their companies can remain industry leaders.”
“Breaking the ground is breaking the future,” he said. “Partnerships are what make everything work.”
Iacono recognized current and former college trustees who took the idea for expanding manufacturing education and brought it into fruition. He explained that manufacturers told the Morris County Freeholders they need skilled manufacturing employees.
The center will feature two electronics labs, two prototyping labs, two computer labs, a 3D printing lab, an analysis lab, an automation and controls/robotics/emerging technologies lab, a measuring and materials testing lab, a welding lab, maker space, conference rooms, classrooms and offices.
Assemblyman Anthony Bucco, R-25th District, supports community college systems where students find a demanding curriculum that focuses on a changing economy and world.
“They leave without a mountain of debt,” he said.
Legislators formed a manufacturing caucus to meet with manufacturers, learn about problems such as their hiring needs versus a lack of skilled applicants, and support training programs to close this gap.
Assemblywoman BettyLou DeCroce, R-26th District, recognized her late husband Alex DeCroce, who was a county freeholder who supported the college. She discussed the importance of training children to be technologically savvy with an eye toward employment.
“I have four little grandchildren who pick up their iPad, laptop and my cell phone. They can do more than me,” DeCroce said.
New Jersey Labor and Workforce Development Commissioner Robert Asaro-Angelo said his office is supporting apprenticeships through grants.
Diana Gonzalez, deputy secretary in the New Jersey Office of the Secretary of Higher Education, explained the innovation economy is addressing needs and meeting them.
Cindy Rampersad grew up in a poor family in the Caribbean nation of Trinidad and Tobago. She struggled as a child to learn in school and her parents lacked an education and could not help her. She immigrated to the United States in 2003, completed high school, enrolled at the County College of Morris and will graduate in May and has completed an internship at Glenbrook Technologies.