By: Follow South Jersey Staff
VINELAND, N.J. — Rowan College of South Jersey’s Cumberland campus officially opened its Mechatronics Innovation Learning Lab (MILL) with a ribbon cutting ceremony on Friday, October 15.
Officials from Rowan College of South Jersey (RCSJ), Rowan University, the Cumberland County Board of County Commissioners, as well as other state and local government officials celebrated this important event alongside College faculty, staff, and students.
“We’re here today to celebrate the expansion of the College’s Engineering Technology program,” Dr. Frederick Keating, president, RCSJ, said. “This is another step on the road we envisioned when Cumberland and Gloucester merged. The MILL aligns with our aspirational vision of offering experiential learning opportunities while finding ways to give students three things: access, affordability and pathway.”
“What used to be known as Cumberland County College, now Rowan College of South Jersey, has always been a gem of Cumberland County,” New Jersey State Senator, Michael L. Testa, Jr. said. “It really warms my heart to see that this gem continues to shine and now expand even more. It’s wonderful to see this expansion of the Mechatronics Innovation Learning Laboratory. Congratulations to each and every one of you who made this happen. You are making our community a better place.”
The Mechatronics Innovation and Learning Laboratory project was initiated when the college received a Title III Hispanic Serving Institutions STEM and Articulation grant from the U.S. Department of Education in 2016. The grant supported both the educational leadership needed to develop the MILL, as well as a large portion of the physical renovations and equipment that was unveiled at the ceremony.
The Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education grant and the National Science Foundation’s Improving STEM Education for Hispanic-Serving Institutions grant also contributed to this innovative project.
The MILL is committed to prepare students in RCSJ’s recently enhanced Engineering Technology program for immediate employment or a smooth transfer to a baccalaureate program. It offers students a hands-on learning experience and the tremendous opportunity to work with state-of-the-art training equipment.
The one-story, 6,357-square-foot MILL is essential for the positive development of RCSJ Engineering Technology students who plan to earn a living in one of the fastest growing disciplines in the engineering field.
“The Engineering Technology program, through Rowan College of South Jersey, is a valuable resource for my company to find highly trained and qualified employees,” Gene Concordia, Operations Director at DWK Life Sciences, LLC, said.
“We have hired numerous RCSJ graduates through the years and look at the College as a training partner who understands our on-the-job needs,” the RCSJ Board of Trustees Chair continued. “I encourage other businesses who are looking for qualified employees to partner with the College in a similar way.”
The MILL consists of four dedicated education spaces. The building houses an electrical and mechanical room with PLCs; electrical, mechanical and pneumatic trainers; and the FANUC industrial robot. A second room contains a high-definition CAD/CAM computer lab, while another is an advanced manufacturing lab that holds two HAAS CNC machines, conveyor belt and mechanical drives trainer.
Lastly, there is a space that encompasses a Drone Zone, which includes a small-drone obstacle course.
“The MILL provides the means to upskill today and tomorrow’s workforce with hands-on training on the actual equipment used in industry, including PLCs, HAAS CNC machines, and FANUC robots,” Dr. Cortney Bolden, administrative instructor, engineering, said.
Bolden, who led attendees on a tour of the facility, also noted the Engineering Technology programs are tailored for RCSJ students to transfer directly into Rowan University. “This training leads to industry certifications and a direct path to both associates and bachelor’s degrees in Engineering Technology,” Bolden said.
Rowan University and the MILL have forged a partnership that will provide immeasurable benefits to RCSJ Engineering Technology students.
“As the incoming dean for the Henry M. Rowan College of Engineering at Rowan University, I have been impressed by the special relationship shared with Rowan College of South Jersey,” said Dr. Giuseppe Palmese, Dean and Associate Director, Advanced Materials & Manufacturing Institute (AMMI) Rowan University. “We’ve created efficient pathways for in-demand credentialing, including the recently established Electrical and Engineering Technology programs that operate entirely on the campuses of RCSJ.”
“This new state-of the art facility,” Palmese continued, “enhances the resources available to our students and enables us to expand our research-oriented collaborations in advanced manufacturing and materials.”
RCSJ’s Engineering Technology program is designed to align with the needs of local industry by supplying the workforce with skilled technicians, while providing students with an affordable accessible pathway to a rewarding career in engineering.
Joseph Derella, Director, Cumberland County Board of County Commissioners, stated the program is “essential for our future economic success.” “Our County has begun to attract advanced manufacturing companies who need a technologically trained and sophisticated workforce,” Derella said.
“The MILL will meet the demand our residents have for the training they need to pursue these rewarding careers right here on our Cumberland campus,” added Darlene Barber, Deputy Director, Cumberland County Board of County Commissioners and County Education Liaison.
For more information about Rowan College of South Jersey’s Engineering Technology program, and the MILL, please visit RCSJ.edu/STEM.
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