Public can check out CLC's new Advanced Technology Center

Editor's note: This story was changed to reflect the amount of recent donations.

Despite supply chain issues, the College of Lake County's Advanced Technology Center opened this fall and began putting students on the path toward careers in the high-tech and manufacturing industries.

Community members now can check out CLC's newest asset during an open house Saturday at the center, built inside the former Lowe's store at Rollins Road and Grand Avenue in Gurnee.

Jon Hardbarger, center director, said not every machine and tool has arrived yet, but that hasn't affected the quality of education in the first months of the center being open.

"It's inspiring to them," Hardbarger said of students' reaction to the center. "They love the space and the equipment and what we're doing here."

The equipment for students includes arc welding booths, 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, which they claim is positioned to provide 40% of the county's skilled labor workforce in the next five years.

Hardbarger said the local business leaders who have offered advice and guidance have ranged from the owners of small businesses to executives at Semiens, a Fortune 500 company with a location in Buffalo Grove.

The first phase of construction, which was budgeted to cost $34 million, included the welding and fabrication lab, space for the new industrial technology program and the V-shaped entrance atrium that also serves as a gathering space for students.

The planned second phase of construction, estimated to cost $55 million, would include learning spaces for advanced manufacturing, automation and robotics on the north side of the first floor and in a second-floor mezzanine.

Hardbarger said there isn't a timeline for when the second phase work will begin. It likely will depend on whether generous donations from local leaders keep coming in, such as recent commitments of $200,000 from Antioch-based Fischer Paper Products, and $100,000 from KNUTH Machine Tools in Lincolnshire. In November 2021, the college accepted a $2 million donation from Lake Forest philanthropists John and Kathy Schreiber.

The open house will run from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at 7735 Grand Ave.

  The College of Lake County Advanced Technology Center in Gurnee is open for students. The building originally was a big box hardware store. Brian Hill/
  Rows of motor control systems and other high-tech teaching tools line the classrooms at the College of Lake County's Advanced Technology Center in Gurnee. Brian Hill/
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