OTC’s New Manufacturing Center to Help Students, Employers, School, and Local Economy

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) – Ozarks Technical Community College in central Springfield has grown by leaps and bounds since its inception in 1990, but its latest expansion is the largest construction project ever … The $ 40 million, 120,000 square foot Robert W Advanced Plaster Manufacturing Center that is still under construction at the corner of National and Chestnut Expressway.

Over its three decades of service to the region, OTC has focused on adding academic programs based on real-world needs and this latest effort is no different.

“By 2030, more than two million advanced manufacturing jobs will go unfilled in the United States,” said Robert Randolph, executive director of the new plant. “And our community is ready to respond very well to this shortage with the opening of this center.”

PMC’s degree programs, slated to open next fall, include drafting / design, manufacturing technology, computer networks, precision machining, cybersecurity, and automation. The latest technologies will be available, including 3D printing, robotics, manufacturing, automated systems, virtual and augmented reality, and network integration.

This is all part of a rapidly changing field where 60% of manufacturers say the biggest barrier to adding employees is not being able to find workers with the knowledge or skills to respond. if needed.

“We’re trying to prepare them to enter the workforce for something that isn’t even there yet,” said Matt Hudson, executive dean of technical education. “Automation has been slow to arrive in our region, but it is increasingly becoming part of our operations. In addition, you must have the ability to perform multiple jobs rather than just one job repetitively.

During a tour of the facility, Randolph stopped in a room on the second floor to point out that this particular lab would be used by drawing and design students and would involve virtual reality.

“When these students design a building like this, for example, they are able to put on virtual reality glasses, walk through their building and do an inspection,” he explained. “They can see these spaces from a different perspective than they would if they were in front of a computer screen.”

The centerpiece of the new center is an open-air manufacturing space longer than a football field, connected to classrooms and laboratories on two floors of the two-story building.

“We have 30,000 square feet of factory floor space that is designed to look, feel and function like real factory floors,” Randolph said. “Students will learn how to use the equipment in the classroom, then come here and practice in a hands-on environment. “

OTC expects the center to have an impact of $ 431 million on the local economy over the next decade because, according to Hudson, “it is number two for needed employees in our area.

Health care is number one in terms of the employees needed.

Tom Hilmes of SRC is well aware of the need for manufacturing employees.

“We have almost a hundred job openings right now in Springfield,” he said.

SRC is one of the largest and oldest remanufacturing companies in North America with eight locations in Springfield. The employee-owned company named one of Forbes Magazine’s Top 25 Small Businesses in America is known around the world for its open management under the leadership of CEO Jack Stack.

Randolph said the SRC hopes the new OTC center will help change the negative stereotype some people associate with the manufacturing industry.

“There has long been a perception that manufacturing is dirty, noisy and dangerous,” he said. “We are here to change that perception. When you see a modern manufacturing facility today, that’s not what you see. You see people using modern technology and doing amazing things in a fraction of the time. “

So, for those familiar with the challenges the manufacturing industry is currently facing in attracting and retaining a workforce, this new OTC center is more than just an educational building.

“This is a truly transformational project that is the first of its kind in the state of Missouri,” Randolph said.

“We’re really going to be a hub for manufacturing training beyond the Springfield metro area alone,” Hudson added.

“They recognize that we want to create better jobs and better careers here,” Hilmes said of the impact on the area of ​​the new center. “We want to attract more people and we want to create more opportunities for people to put down roots and start families.”

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