BRANCHBURG, NJ - Raritan Valley Community College ushered in a new era of hands-on learning yesterday with the official opening of the college’s Workforce Training Center, designed in partnership with local industry to better serve the area's economic and employment needs.
The 47,000 square foot building houses a variety of hands-on career-training programs under one roof including Automotive Technology, Advanced Manufacturing Technology (metal-works fabrication), Cosmetology, Esthetics (skincare), Environmental Control Technology, and Commercial Energy Management.
Financing for the $11.5 million facility includes $8 million from the state Higher Education Facilities Trust Fund — which requires no college or local match — and $3.5 million from New Jersey’s Chapter 12 Community College Building Fund. Under the Chapter 12 program, counties issue bonds for the construction project. The state pays half of the cost of repaying the debt service and the counties of Somerset and Hunterdon pay the remaining 50 percent.
“Today is a turning point in the history of RVCC," said Michael J. McDonough, RVCC president. The college, which has long been celebrated for its academic transfer programs, is now leading the way in providing a state-of-the-art facility for students to train for careers in some of the most sought-after occupations.
"Our commitment to career training has been a collaborative effort, bringing together leaders in industry and higher education to develop programs that will prepare students to thrive and excel in today’s competitive workforce," he added. "The partnership ensures that our students will graduate with the high level of training and real-work experience that local employers are seeking.”
The WTC facility, which incorporates prefabricated construction design methods, was designed by SSP Architectural Group of Bridgewater. Half of the building includes double-height areas to accommodate the trade programs in such fields as Automotive Technology, Advanced Manufacturing, Environmental Control Technology and Commercial Energy Management. The other half of the building is two stories and includes modern classrooms for professional and corporate training; offices for staff and faculty; a working salon area for the Cosmetology and Esthetics programs; a student lounge; and the Small Business Development Center.
The WTC’s training areas and shops have been carefully designed to help students succeed. The Automotive Technology shop is equipped with the latest curriculum, tools and diagnostic equipment from Snap On, Fiat Chrysler and Subaru to train students to become Auto Technicians.
The new space boasts five automotive lifts and a front-end suspension bay, as well as real demonstration engines and electrical trainers. Courses in the 36-credit Automotive Technology Certificate program prepare students to take the Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) certification test.
The Advanced Manufacturing Machines, 3D printing and welding labs expertly prepare students to meet the regional employment demand for entry-level and advanced skilled machinists. The machine training lab is equipped with Haas CNC machines, including four HAAS control simulators, one turning center, and one milling center.
In addition, industry skill demands are met through training on two Bridgeport style mills, two engine lathes, two surface grinders, a vertical and a horizontal band saw, an optical comparator and other basic machinery. Graduates of the 12-month CNC Production Technician program receive their industry recognized NIMS certifications and OSHA10 card.
The Environmental Control Technology and Commercial Energy Management Technology (CEM-Tech), shops, which will soon be completed, will feature modern testers, instrumentation and equipment for students to learn and develop technical know-how in residential and commercial HVAC, Energy Auditing, Building Automation and Building Commissioning/Retro-commissioning.
Students will work with trainers and the latest tools used in the industry for diagnosing and repairing malfunctioning HVAC/R equipment and energy systems in buildings.
Students in the new CEM-Tech program will train to become technicians responsible for maintaining and optimizing the performance of energy management systems in commercial buildings. Students in the Environmental Control programs train to become service technicians, installers or designers of residential and/or commercial equipment in the air conditioning, refrigeration and heating field.
The WTC also offers Protégé, a working salon and spa for Cosmetology and Esthetics students to master their skills. The salon offers the latest color brands and equipment, as well as a beauty bar designed for hair blowouts using the Freestylist Support System, a weightless blow-dry system, and express services such as mini facials and eye treatments using products that have been derived from the sea.
The facility gives Cosmetology students the opportunity to learn the most contemporary haircutting and styling techniques, fashion-forward color trends and skin care regimens. Spa and salon services are also available by appointment to help students improve their business, retail and interpersonal skills. The spa has four treatment areas and electrotherapy machines. Graduates of both programs take the state board exam to receive their state license.
The Small Business Development Center provides expert business counseling, at no-cost, to established small business owners and aspiring entrepreneurs in Somerset and Hunterdon Counties. The SBDC assists entrepreneurs in starting or expanding a small business in all industries, including technology, manufacturing, retail, service and wholesale, as well as international trade. Each year, the Center counsels over 400 clients in close to 1,000 counseling sessions and also trains 900 clients.
The WTC’s corporate and professional development offerings have expanded significantly to include the most in-demand industry credentials and nationally recognized certifications. The facility’s three technology labs, which will soon be completed, will enable more than 90 individual students or corporate teams to gain critical skills from expert instructors and industry-driven curriculum.
The professional and corporate training at the WTC includes the New Jersey Business & Industry Association (NJBIA) Basic Skills Workforce Training Program and the Ready To Work Grant Training Program.
In partnership with the NJ Community College Workforce Consortium, these granted-funded programs offer corporate customized training and professional development courses to employers and workers—at no tuition cost — from Somerset and Hunterdon County businesses. Training also can be delivered on-site at a company’s location.
Raritan Valley Community College’s main campus is located at 118 Lamington Road.