I hate to be the old man in the corner saying “…back in my day.” But after one visit to the Greenville Technical College Center for Manufacturing Innovation (CMI), I will own my “old man” status. Because “back in my day,” tools for school consisted of notebooks, number two pencils and a Trapper Keeper. We didn’t have heavy machinery and robotics for hands-on learning.
I had the pleasure of visiting CMI for the first time when it hosted to 20th Annual Manufacturing Celebration put on by the Greenville Chamber. The night had live music, fabulous BBQ and craft beer from Iron Hill Brewing Company. But the stars of the show are the tools inside the “shed,” in this case a 100,000-square-foot state-of-the-art facility.
New students seem to have the same astonishment I did, looking at the rows and rows of machinery and engineering equipment in wonder. That’s what Jacqueline Burrows, an instructor with the Mechatronics Department revealed to me during the celebration, “The best thing I like is watching a student. They get so nervous coming out there because [it] looks like so much,” Burrows said, “But as soon as they come out here and start watching the processes and learning how to fix things, they are just in love with it. So, it’s nice to watch people grow through the semester.”
According to the school’s website, The CMI facility offers, “the state’s first applied bachelor’s degree in advanced manufacturing technology” and offers other certificate programs in nearly a dozen disciplines:
Greenville successfully evolved from its textile heritage to an advanced manufacturing powerhouse. “Bringing the event into the Center for Manufacturing Innovation is a way to showcase the future of manufacturing,” says Hank Hyatt, Senior Vice President of Economic Competitiveness at the Chamber. “You see the machines around us, people making 3-D chess boards there. You’ve seen robotic cars come in. We’ve got high school robotics teams. Manufacturing is in the lifeblood of Greenville, and it will be in into the future.”
Having the right tools to train our future workforce, so students are prepared for the jobs of tomorrow, today.