By Eric Eyre
Architects have unveiled plans for a $15 million advanced technology training center in South Charleston, a project that's expected to become an integral part of the West Virginia Education, Research and Technology Park.
Workers are scheduled to break ground this fall, and construction on the 50,000-square-foot building is expected to start early next year. Students will likely be taking classes in the facility by January 2012.
"This gives us a state-of-the-art facility that allows us to serve the needs of employers throughout the state," said Jim Skidmore, chancellor of West Virginia's community and technical colleges. "We did not have the capacity to offer the type of high-tech training that's needed."
The Advantage Valley Technology Training Center will host about 600 students and offer classes in fields such as nanotechnology, electrical mechanical technology (or mechatronics), information technology, digital analog circuitry and chemical processing.
The two-floor building - designed by E.T. Boggess Architect Inc. of Princeton - has about a dozen labs.
"The lab space and program offerings reflect discussions we've had with employers as we went through the development process," Skidmore said.
Most of the labs can be modified for customized training, depending on the demands of area employers or new businesses that locate in the region.
"We can move equipment in and out rather easily," said Bob Brown, chairman of the state Council for Community and Technical Colleges, which is overseeing the project. "The nice thing about this is we're able to modify the spaces to react to the needs of potential businesses."