07 Apr Applied Technology Centers to aid printing and manufacturing
These days, every company is a technology business, especially manufacturers and printers, and help for them is on the way in the form of Applied Technology Centers now under construction at Milwaukee Area Technical College South Campus and at Waukesha County Technical College.
Both facilities will offer technology services to area employers, especially in the area of workforce training, but the similarities end there.
MATC has received approval to move ahead with the Center for Energy Conservation and Advanced Manufacturing, a 32,500-square-foot addition to the Oak Creek Campus that should open in the fall 2007. Meanwhile, groundbreaking was held Friday for the 27,000-square-foot Printing Applied Technology Center at Waukesha County Technical College.
Developed with the aid of focus group research, the Center for Energy Conservation and Advanced Manufacturing will focus on the skills needed by the region’s industries in light of looming retirements. It will not only seek to bundle energy technologies and manufacturing processes in new and beneficial combinations, but deliver training to a new breed of worker geared to continuous change and higher technical skills.
As part of the project fund-raising, MATC has been asking companies to help develop the center in a way that meets their needs. The college also is working with area high schools to improve the image of manufacturing careers, and it intends to explore partnerships with four-year institutions.
The facility will have laboratories specializing in a number of areas, including skill assessment and certification on new equipment, and advanced software applications. Jim Eden, associate dean in technology and applied science, said companies that use MATC’s facility would benefit technologically through incumbent working training.
A number of the employers MATC talks to have employees on shop floors that don’t have the expertise to work with new equipment, which can cost millions to acquire. “If we have that machine technology in our facility, those employees can come right in under a contract training through the college and train right there while the facility will be able to keep running,” Eden said. “It gives them some financial leverage, and if they hire a new employee they can have them come to our facility and do the training, and it doesn’t slow down their production.”
Printing’s Silicon Valley
WCTC’s Applied Technology Center will be attached to the existing Harry V. Quadracci Printing and Graphics Center, creating one complex with separate missions – one to refine the skills of existing workers, the other to provide educational programming for future workers.
When completed in nine to 12 months, the center will support product testing, applied research, printing industry seminars, and a year-round Product Expo and Demonstration Area. The center will feature the latest digital printing equipment, and will attempt to establish a collaborative environment where national and international printers can conduct advanced research and rapidly translate it into commercial solutions.
In addition, it will collaborate on research and development projects with UW-Madison and UW-Milwaukee, and be a place where businesses can send their incumbent workers for skills training, especially at high-end levels. Incubation companies will be encouraged to rent space there to develop new ideas.
Perhaps more importantly, print industry officials believe it will contribute to making printing an industry that is identifiable with Wisconsin. Niall Power, president and CEO of the Printing Industries of Wisconsin, said much like Detroit is associated with the automotive industry and Hollywood is known for the motion picture industry, he would like Wisconsin branded as the nation’s pre-eminent printing cluster. “We want to look at this region, at this time, as the Silicon Valley of printing,” Power said. “That is our goal, to make this a region that people look to for new and emerging technologies.”