The Fabricators & Manufacturers Association (FMA) has partnered with Harper College to build a new $1.5 million facility designed to create critically needed skilled workers for area manufacturers and related businesses.
The new 6,000 square foot FMA Metal Fabrication Lab, funded in part by a $500,000 grant from the FMA, will double the size of Harper’s current manufacturing lab.
A groundbreaking ceremony for the FMA Metal Fabrication Lab is set for June 29 at Harper’s main campus in Palatine, Illinois northwest of Chicago. The lab is expected to open in the fall 2015.
The new facility will support Harper’s Advanced Manufacturing Program which trains students for high tech manufacturing careers in mechatronics/automation, precision machining, metal fabrication and supply chain management/logistics. The program offers industry-endorsed skills certificates and paid internships with 75 local manufacturers. The program was the recipient of a $13 million federal grant to expand its best practices statewide.
The expanded facility will train up to 600 students annually and will house state of the art equipment such as lasers, turrets, press brakes, and robotic welders. Some of the equipment will be donated by FMA members. According to research from Deloitte and The Manufacturing Institute, the U.S. faces a shortage of nearly two million manufacturing workers over the next decade.
The $500,000 FMA grant will release $400,000 over the next five years and will be contingent on enrollment benchmarks. Additionally, $100,000 will go to manufacturing students who qualify for the Harper Promise Scholarship. The Promise Scholarship guarantees area students up to two free years of tuition if they get solid grades, have good attendance, don’t repeat classes and perform community service during all four years in high school.