By Greg Oliver
Tri-County Technical College on Friday formally unveiled its state-of-the-art Industrial Technology Center, a 43,000-square foot-facility located less than five miles from the Pendleton campus.
During a dedication and ribbon-cutting ceremony featuring county and state-elected officials from Oconee, Pickens and Anderson counties, Tech President Ronnie Booth said the college purchased the former Virginia Tobacco Products facility to house the center. The facility includes an 11,000-square-foot welding laboratory with 48 welding booths, a 4,000-square-foot fabrication area, a 6,000-square-foot heating, ventilation and cooling lab, three classrooms, an open computer laboratory, seven offices, a faculty work area and approximately 8,000 square feet of space for future program development.
“Our welding program has been bursting at the seams for some time,” Booth said. “We looked at a lot of options, including building onsite in Pendleton, and decided that although it could be done, the architects and engineers we hired said we shouldn’t. So, we began looking for a building we could rehab and were able to turn this facility into something good for the area.”
Booth said the center has been completely renovated to create an industrial training center “designed to mimic a real-world industrial setting.” The structure used various types of construction techniques in the retrofitting process that could be later used as teaching tools in the classroom.
“It’s important to learn safety, important to learn how to use things, important to learn how to run a shop and how to put up things,” Booth said.
Existing equipment was refurbished and moved to the center and new equipment was also purchased, including a $50,000 robot and a $78,000 manufacturing cell for the welding program. All new gas packs were also purchased for the heating and air conditioning units in the HVAC program.
The new facility opened for classes Jan. 14, the first day of spring semester.
“We believe this facility is not a step, but a leap forward in serving our community,” said W.H. “Ham” Hudson, chairman of the Tri-County Technical College Commission. “Access to a trained and skilled workforce are important factors when it comes to industries seeking where to locate.”
The cost of construction is estimated at $4.4 million and Booth said funding occurred through resources “Tech cobbled together.”
“We did this without having to go to Columbia by saving money and not doing things we planned to do in other places,” Booth said.
By Greg Oliver