December 14, 2017 10:49:10 AM
A year after construction started on the $42.6 million Communiversity, the massive manufacturing technology education center is beginning to take shape and turn heads for those driving past the site along Highway 82.
Wednesday, project officials provided an update on the progress on the facility, which should be completed by the end of 2018 and ready for use in the fall of 2019.
Communiversity is funded by local, state and federal funds. The programs will be administered by East Mississippi Community College, which plans to shift its current manufacturing technology classes to the 130,000-square-foot facility.
While the form of the Communiversity is taking shape, the work continues on other aspects that are every bit as vital to the success of the facility. EMCC continues to work to establish a curriculum, identify what it will need to support those classes and locate instructors with expertise in those areas.
While EMCC's current manufacturing technology classes will satisfy many of the needs of industry, the ever-changing landscape of manufacturing requires the school to tailor its programs to the needs of local industry.
As EMCC President Dr. Thomas Huebner noted Wednesday, the Communiversity must be prepare for "the next generation, equipping industries for their specific needs."
That's a big challenge, one that emphasizes the importance of this unique approach, a collaboration between educational institutions, government entities and, perhaps most important, local manufacturing and industry.
For our local industries, the benefits of Communiversity are obvious: Essentially, it will be a training facility for their workforce.
As the saying goes, to whom much is given, much is required. It's worth noting that none of the funding for the construction or operations of the facility comes from these industries. It will be essential they step up in a big way, not only through providing the equipment needed to teach the skills they require, but through support in developing these programs, working closely with EMCC staff.
And, in the uncertain world of education funding, local industry must be prepared to fill the breach in funding that may someday emerge.
A collaboration on a project of this scale cannot be confined to a simple agreement. Just as the needs of industry will certainly change over time, so will the demands on Communiversity.
Industry must be prepared to do it's part in meeting those needs.
Just as a building is only as sound as its infrastructure, so is the partnership that has breathed life into this project.
Ultimately the success of Communiversity relies on the strength of these relationships.
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