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Rowan-Cabarrus hosts visit to SC advanced technology center

Rowan-Cabarrus Community College students, community leaders and staff recently visited an advanced technology center in Rock Hill, S.C. The facility, part of York Technical College, was created in 2003.

“We believe that this is the next step forward for our region – advanced technology and advanced manufacturing,” said Dr. Carol S. Spalding, president of Rowan-Cabarrus.

York Tech’s Center for Advanced Manufacturing is a 25,000-square-foot facility, which supports the economic and workforce development needs of local industry.

“Our region is on the precipice. Change is coming. New employers with new jobs, like those at Victory Industrial Park, are coming,” said Dakeita Vanderburg-Johnson, president of Southgate Masonry & Lumber Co., Inc.

Vanderburg-Johnson is also the chair of the Rowan-Cabarrus board of trustees’ institutional advancement and legislative committee.

“Visiting York Tech was necessary and eye-opening,” she added.

Through partnerships with industry, such as the on-site Okuma Training Institute, York Tech’s Corporate and Continuing Education Division delivers innovative training using the latest generation of computer numerically controlled machine tools, simulators and advanced CAM software.

“People get nervous when they hear about jobs in manufacturing. But manufacturing today is different – it’s high-tech and clean,” said Dr. Sid Valentine, associate vice president of industrial and engineering technologies at York Technical College. “This is a viable and promising career field.”

The facility was strategically constructed with flexibility in mind to accommodate various equipment.

Seven Rowan-Cabarrus students traveled together to see what this kind of facility might look like and the impact it could have on a community.

“Students take classes and practical training in the same place at the same time. It encourages students to see where their education is heading toward the industry demand,” said Roa Saleh, Rowan-Cabarrus student ambassador who traveled with the group. “Our communities need education and training/retraining programs. They need to find this here at Rowan-Cabarrus Community College.”

“If a system like this was put together at Rowan-Cabarrus it would allow the college to help students majoring in a technology field. As a student majoring in computer science, I believe this will help me in a huge way,” said David Perry, another student ambassador who went on the trip. “York Tech had a 100 percent job placement rate for students who finished the program.”

Spalding said that while Rowan-Cabarrus is already invested in some of the areas, the college needs additional space to expand.

“We simply can’t build a program if we don’t have a place to put it. More importantly, an Advanced Technology Center would be a flagship to help attract employers to the region,” she said.

An Advanced Technology Center would address training needs for companies with high technology demand and emerging jobs through industry-recognized certifications and hands-on skills training in multiple disciplines, including: information technologies, welding, machining, HVAC, electronics and electrical engineering technologies, mechanical engineering, hydraulics, pneumatics, nanotechnology, advanced manufacturing and more.

The Cabarrus County Board of Commissioners approved a $9 million bond referendum for a new Advanced Technology Center for the college, which will be on the Nov. 4 ballot. The referendum will be titled “Cabarrus County Community College Bonds.”

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