9-24-2015: CMI Topping Out Celebration Held

A topping out celebration was held today at the Greenville Technical College (GTC) Center for Manufacturing Innovation (CMI). The ritual of topping out to celebrate the safe completion of a structure is one with roots reaching back for centuries. This celebration by the project team and guests marked placement of the last steel beam on the CMI, signifying that the building had reached its maximum height.

The Center for Manufacturing Innovation, expected to open in August 2016, aims to increase the number of skilled workers for manufacturing in order to close the skills gap that has hampered the progress of many Upstate employers. Manufacturing is the economic powerhouse in Greenville County, ranking first in Gross Regional Product. Average annual earnings per employee in manufacturing are much higher than the overall regional average. Yet despite the strong opportunities that are waiting, employers struggle to find people with the right skills to fill job openings.

This challenge is compounded by the fact that many young people don’t realize that manufacturing can be an exciting and lucrative career choice. These young people may be relying on their parents for guidance, and with only 35% of parents reporting that they would encourage children to go into manufacturing, many students will likely miss out on a golden opportunity.

Since seeing is believing, architect Cindy Benjamin, AIA, LEED AP BD + C of LS3P, designed the CMI to draw the visitor into the opportunities that exist in this sector. Visitors will enter the building through a glass-enclosed bridge that crosses above high-bay lab space, allowing them to observe advanced manufacturing equipment in use. The lobby will house interactive kiosks and displays that will employ sophisticated technology to connect young people to manufacturing careers. The 106,000 square foot facility is the first building on a new International Style campus, and will establish a distinctive architectural character while serving as a visual icon of modern manufacturing.

Rodgers Builders is serving as construction manager. "We are very proud to be involved with the new Center for Manufacturing Innovation for Greenville Technical College, and we’re excited about its future impact on the growth of the regional economy, increasing the highly skilled workforce available to industry,” said Pat Rodgers, president and CEO of Rodgers Builders, Inc. "Today, we’re here to celebrate what has been accomplished to date: 557 tons of structural steel have been put in place, 1,612 cubic yards of concrete have been poured, and approximately 25,000 total hours have been worked — safely — by all the trades on this project."

The CMI is being built on partnerships. Area manufacturers have been part of the process from the earliest stages, providing input on their needs that helped the college formulate this idea. Greenville County Schools and Clemson University are partners, too, collaborating with GTC to create a national showcase for workforce development.

“We are happy to celebrate this milestone at the Center for Manufacturing Innovation and to see momentum for this project continue to build,” said Dr. Keith Miller, president of Greenville Technical College. “The idea for this campus began with the needs of employers. Advanced manufacturers share in our excitement as we get closer to being able to create a supply of highly skilled new employees and to increase the skills of current employees so that companies in the Upstate can compete globally.”

The Center for Manufacturing Innovation is located at the Millennium Campus adjacent to the Clemson University International Center for Automotive Research (CU-ICAR). The 100,000 square foot facility will offer specialized advanced technological training in manufacturing, Technologies will include CNC machines, EDM, multiple-axis lathes, PLCs and robotics, hydraulics and pneumatics, rapid prototype equipment for 3-D modeling, stereo lithography, selective laser sintering, and deposition modeling.

In addition to offering a curriculum to develop skills for a high-tech workforce, the center will support research, entrepreneurship, and the development and implementation of advanced manufacturing in collaboration with industry partners.