Gateway’s urban metropolitan campus to ‘recover some of the trades here’

Gateway Community and Technical College is a mainstay of Northern Kentucky’s educational landscape, providing countless individuals with the skills training needed to build successful careers in the region.

When Gateway management recognized the lack of scope in business education for prospective students at the river town public schools in the Holmes, Ludlow, Lloyd, Newport, Bellevue and Dayton area, they realized something had to be done. A 2021 YouScience Student Abilities Report showed that students in river city school districts have an aptitude for and interest in manufacturing career fields, but need exposure and accessibility to want to pursue them.

Now, the school’s urban metropolitan campus in Covington provides these students with vital manufacturing and commerce-focused educational resources that were previously unavailable. The campus was unveiled last week.

“How can we give high school students and underemployed people the opportunity to come and take a few classes,” said Sam Collier, dean of manufacturing and transportation technologies at Gateway.

Located along Madison Avenue on Covington’s main thoroughfare, the Urban Metro Campus provides closer access for urban students to learn skills such as industrial maintenance, computerized manufacturing, welding, and HVAC.

“We had nothing here (Covington),” Collier said. “The idea was to bring some trades back here.”

A rendering of the new fabrication and welding center. Photo provided | Bridge.

The new welding and fabrication labs at the Metro Urban Campus are designed to allow for additional coursework that will lead to more certificates and short-term credentials that will steer students toward high-demand, high-wage industrial career opportunities higher in the region.

“Providing the community with access to programs like these gives students a pathway to employment in high-growth, high-demand sectors without them having to guess or wonder what they will do or where they will go when they graduate,” said Gateway President Dr. Fernando Figueroa. said.

Funds from the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund were used to reconfigure the first floor space of the Metro Urban Campus. The center features new educational technology, a redesigned interior, satellite classrooms and a hall with multiple welding bays. Classes for this fall semester began on Monday of last week.

A second rendering of the new manufacturing and welding center. Photo provided | Bridge.

The center’s new technology provides students with hands-on opportunities to practice their craft. For example, Gateway welding students taking courses at Campus Urbain Métro now have access to four simulators that allow students to weld in virtual reality.

“The material is brand new, so I’m still figuring it out,” joked welding instructor Logan Justice.

Alongside virtual reality welding simulators are several different versions of advanced HVAC training devices. One such example is a thermal unit trainer. This device gives HVAC students insight into how the interior of a home is heated and how temperature changes affect heating inside the home.

The welding center includes several welding bays with safety technology included. Photo by Kenton Hornbeck | LINK

Other HVAC educational devices include air conditioning troubleshooters, which have a safety shutdown system that helps reinforce proper procedures for students. The interactive devices present a digital curriculum that allows students to work on assignments outside of the classroom, then travel to the training center and complete their assignments live.

For industrial maintenance and industrial electrical students, Gateway offers training cases that allow students to work on topics such as hydraulics in a compact space.

In total, the main classroom in the fabrication and welding center can accommodate up to 36 students.

Welding students using their new virtual reality welding trainers. Photo by Kenton Hornbeck | LINK

Towards the rear of the first floor, Gateway has installed a room which includes several welding bays for the students. Required safety equipment, such as welding masks and blankets, is included with each individual bay.

Collier said COVID-19 has impacted how Gateway can deliver fabrication and welding training, which typically requires students to learn by doing in the classroom.

“COVID taught us that we didn’t know what to do when we had to send everyone home,” Collier said. “Having backup plans means that at least we can have them do the digital part of missions until we can get them back.”

Suitcase trainers used for industrial maintenance and electrical maintenance. Photo by Kenton Hornbeck | LINK

To combat the negative effects of the pandemic on the classroom, the fabrication and welding center has been designed with portable teaching devices that students can use, some of which are equipped with wheels to facilitate their movement when distanced. social required. The machining program is the only program that does not have portable teaching devices.

“We had to set it up so that we could extend these simulators to subsequent takes so the students weren’t close together,” Collier said. “Everything is on wheels.”

The fabrication and welding center is still being finished, with Collier telling LINK nky that he expects the entire first floor of the Metro Urban Campus to be fully operational by October.

Figueroa recognized the importance of this type of skills education to the regional economy and spoke about it publicly at the Covington Business Council luncheon last Thursday.

“Intermediate skills are finally in the urban core,” Figueroa said. “We have had students who have been in river towns who have been totally uncomfortable or unable to get to the Boone campus where all of these facilities have been in the past.”

Devices used for HVAC education. Photo by Kenton Hornbeck | LINK

Figueroa said 2,600 students exist in grades 9 through 12 at public high schools in the river town, representing a significant demographic of manufacturing workers for northern Kentucky. According to Figueroa, Gateway management has seen studies on the GIS Kentucky Education to Workforce app showing that there are approximately 13,097 total manufacturing jobs in Boone County, 5,676 in Kenton County and 1,797 in Campbell County. This same study indicates that by 2030, approximately 714 new manufacturing jobs will be created in Boone County, 240 in Kenton County and 33 in Campbell County.

The problem is that there are not enough skilled workers to fill these manufacturing positions in the region due to the impending demographic drought, defined as an increasing number of businesses depending on a decreasing number of workers. Providing students from river towns with access to essential education to fill these jobs is a vital economic task for the region.

“We look around and wonder why we have so many jobs open,” Figueroa said. “We don’t have the babies. We don’t have people so that means everyone is on deck.

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