2-3-2015: Duke Energy gift will create advanced manufacturing showcase at Greenville Tech's CMI

A $50,000 gift from the Duke Energy Foundation will showcase advanced manufacturing and its exciting opportunities at the Center for Manufacturing Innovation (CMI), which Greenville Technical College plans to open in 2016 in partnership with Clemson University.

The number one goal for the CMI is to increase the number of skilled workers for manufacturing in order to close the skills gap that has hampered the progress of many Upstate employers. Manufacturing in Greenville County is an economic powerhouse, first in Gross Regional Product and total earnings for all industries. It is responsible for nearly all annual capital investment in the area and has the highest multiplier effect of any sector.

Yet employers have struggled to find people with adequate skills to fill job openings. The manufacturing workforce is aging, and there are too few younger workers in the pipeline to replace them.

The planned Advanced Manufacturing showcase, made possible in part through Duke Energy Foundation’s generosity, will showcase the technologically advanced nature of manufacturing today. Four 55-inch interactive screens will invite visitors to learn about manufacturing components and careers. For example, if a user selects a turbine from the screen’s display shelf, he can drill down by touching different areas of the turbine, learning what the turbine is, what it’s used for, how parts are machined, and how to become the CNC operator who helps to create it.

“We know that advanced manufacturing drives the Upstate’s economy,” said Dr. Keith Miller, president of Greenville Technical College. “Through this interactive display, we can help people understand how manufacturing can also drive their success. Telling people about this strong sector isn’t enough. Thanks to Duke Energy Foundation, we can show people the opportunities that exist.”

The CMI will also engage K-12 students and show them the possibilities that exist in advanced manufacturing careers through dual enrollment programs, tours, camps, and open houses.

Architectural features at the CMI will engage visitors from the first moment. The entryway will provide observation points where a visitor can view simulated advanced manufacturing environments.

The CMI will be located at the Millennium Campus adjacent to the Clemson University International Center for Automotive Research (CU-ICAR) Technology Neighborhood 1, offering education designed to meet industry needs including dual credit programs in partnership with Greenville County Schools, programs that allow a student to move from associate degree to bachelor’s degree, and workforce training and certificate programs that increase the qualifications of manufacturing employees.