ALAMANCE COUNTY, N.C. -- The countdown to open Alamance Community College’s new Advanced Applied Technology Center is to 26 days.
“You can feel the excitement as you walk around campus,” Alamance Community College President Dr. Algie Gatewood said.
Alamance County Commissioners approved bonds for the facility back in 2012 and they were issued in 2015. Construction began in July 2016 and, thanks to a mild winter, Gatewood said that construction has remained on schedule.
The 32,865-square-foot facility cost approximately $16 million but the returns to the county are estimated to be more than the initial investment.
“The teaching and learning processes that will take place here will pay dividends in terms of return on investments. Right now, Alamance Community College return of investment to this county is some $200 million a year, that's the economic impact,” Gatewood explained. “The economic impact will grow because we'll be able to provide even greater service to more students and to get more people ready for a job."
Those jobs fall under five major programs housed inside the center; HVAC, automotive system, welding, computer-integrated machining and mechatronics.
Dean of Industrial Technologies Justin Snyder said every piece of equipment entering the building is new and will be similar, if not the same, used in local industries.
“Local industry has really partnered with us to help facilitate what's going into this building.,” Snyder said. “We just didn't make the decisions for the building based on what our instructors wanted but based upon our advisory board's recommendations.”
Gatewood and Snyner said the AATC will train students for local positions; ones that cannot be outsourced.
“So locally, our companies like Sandvik, GKN, Fairystone Fabrics, Glen Raven would be the type of employers hiring our students,” Snyder said.
Enrollment is open now to students. The excitement and potential filling of courses are already leading administration to expand their course sections to offer daytime, afternoon and evening classes.
“We're seeing students come back that may have not finished the program for particular reasons so they are seeing the excitement that's built,” Snyder said.
For comparison in space alone, the AATC replaces a 12,000-square-foot shop facility.