A year after its grand opening, the first students to use the Industrial Arts building at Auburn Career Center in Concord Township for an entire school year will soon be graduating.
The $1.2 million, 15,000-square-foot building opened in 2014 and features two labs: one for advanced manufacturing and the other for heating, ventilation and air conditioning programs.
Margaret Lynch, Auburn Career Center’s superintendent, said between the high school students and adult education courses, the building will be adding about 60 workers to the workforce this spring.
While a big investment for the center, Lynch said the new facility has definitely been worth the cost because it better prepares students for direct entry to the workforce.
“It’s set the standard for our other programs as well,” Lynch said.
Terry Colescott, advanced manufacturing instructor, said the new facility has shown students a much more realistic approach to modern manufacturing.
“Machine shops today are bright, clean and well organized,” Colescott said. “In our facility we’re able to mirror that.”
The advanced manufacturing lab features dozens of machines, including five CNC machines, which stands for computer numerical control.
Recently, a senior student used one of the machines to design and finally manufacture a copper circuit board, at the request of an alternative energy class at the school, Colescott said.
It was the first circuit board to be made at Auburn in this way, he said.
“That’s a viable, industry transferable trade right there,” Colescott said.
Dozens of area businesses, as well as an advisory board, helped Auburn design the building and also donated some supplies. The additional size of the building also allows for all of the students to be participating at all times, which allows students to learn more in a shorter amount of time.
The HVAC lab on the other side of the building features rows of heating and cooling units, including 21 gas furnaces and two oil furnaces, that cover a range of different efficiencies. Fully functional sheet metal fabrication can also be done in the lab, said Wayne Reed, the HVAC technician instructor.
The wide variety of machines students can work on will prepare them for just about anything the students will see in someone’s basement during future employment, Reed said.
In the older facility, Reed said students were working “elbow to elbow,” which caused mistakes and made learning much more difficult.
“They don’t realize how lucky you are to come into a place like this,” Reed said of the juniors, who know nothing of learning in the former building.
Lou Hill, one of those junior HVAC students, did see the old facility when he originally visited Auburn.
“It’s a lot better,” Lou said. “It’s light in here.”
The improved lighting makes everything easier, especially working with the sheet metal, Lou said.
Lou recently took what he has learned so far to the
SkillsUSA competition in Columbus, where he competed in the HVAC events. There were six different stations with different objectives, including troubleshooting.
The public can check out the facility, as well as the rest of Auburn Career Center’s campus, at its community open house on April 30 from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m.
A job fair, also open to the public, will be held at the career center, located 8140 Auburn Road, on May 7.