CLC's Advanced Technology Center on schedule to open this fall
The former Lowe's store at Rollins Road and Grand Avenue in Gurnee is on track to be converted into College of Lake County's first Advanced Technology Center in time to host classes this fall, officials said.
The center is designed to be a place for students to earn degrees in machining, manufacturing, welding, fabrication and industrial technology. Officials said it is positioned to provide 40% of the county's skilled labor workforce in the next five years.
The project is being built in two phases. The first phase, expected to cost $34 million, will include a welding and fabrication lab, space for the new industrial technology program and a V-shaped entrance atrium that will provide a "wow" factor while serving as a gathering space for students, officials said
CLC leaders recently purchased about $250,000 in teaching tools for the center. And because the aim is for students to have hands-on experience, many of those teaching tools are actual tools.
Jon Hardbarger, director of the Advanced Technology Center, said the equipment for students will include 44 arc welding booths, four industrial welding robots, laser cutters, band saws, drill presses, grinding machines and a series of training machines related to piping, electronics and automation.
School officials worked closely with local industries and employers to craft the curriculum at the center, said Richard Ammon, CLC's dean of engineering, math and physical sciences.
"When our students leave the program, they are given the skills that industry leaders in Lake County are asking for," Ammon said. "This is an investment into creating skilled workforce in Lake County. Think of what that investment can do in the next 10 years."
Hardbarger said substantial completion of construction is on schedule for the end of June. He said the CLC staff will do the final odds and ends over the rest of the summer.
"We're on track and looking forward to teaching fall classes," Hardbarger said. "We can't wait to get in there; it's truly looking like an awesome space."
A planned second phase of construction would include learning spaces for advanced manufacturing, automation and robotics on the north side of the first floor and in a second-floor mezzanine. Officials estimate the second phase would cost $55 million.