GOODLAND — Northwest Tech has officially launched the newest advanced manufacturing lab in Kansas higher education following a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Nov 8. Members of the community joined legislators, representatives from the Kansas Department of Commerce, industry employers, Goodland Ambassadors, and members of the college to unveil the latest addition to the Engineering Technology program.
The new lab was funded through the recent award of a Kansas Department of Commerce Higher Education Advanced Manufacturing & Information Technology Equipment grant for $500,000 focused on expanding advanced manufacturing opportunities around the state. Regionally, the Dane G. Hansen Foundation provided an additional $100,000 for renovations to the existing facility to accommodate the new lab.
Trent Armbrust, Chief Strategy Officer for the Kansas Department of Commerce was on hand to provide opening remarks. “This Advanced Manufacturing training facility is first class, representing the type of investment needed to compete in our technology-driven global economy. Northwest Tech is a great example of how vision, leadership, and dedication to students and industry can transform a region.”
Northwest Tech utilized the grant funds to secure several new cutting-edge pieces of additive and subtractive advanced manufacturing equipment and robotic welding for the Engineering Technology program. The additions will allow the program to expand its curriculum and include new coursework and training focused on advanced manufacturing and automation. The program changes allow students to choose between two pathways during their second year in the program; civil engineering technology or mechanical engineering technology. In addition to program changes, the college will partner with area high schools and community members to deliver courses online and on-site in G-Code, the programming language used for CNC programming.
The goal is for the equipment enhancements to meet the shifting needs of industry partners and the state’s workforce involved in advanced manufacturing and engage the college in regional economic development. “Regional and other manufacturing companies across the state are excited and eager to hire students coming through the program,” says Michael Zimmerman, one of the Engineering instructors for the program. “The new lab will allow students to experience the design and manufacturing process in its entirety from concept to creation.”
The college anticipates area community members and businesses bringing new concepts for product creation to the lab to allow students to draft, digitize in CAD, and prototype new products for the marketplace. This grant will improve Northwest Tech’s connection with Kansas’ manufacturing industry by providing students with access to innovative technology and broadening the labor pool to attract industry to the area.
For more information about the advanced manufacturing lab, contact Engineering Instructor Michael Zimmerman at [email protected].