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Ribbon is Cut for Tech Science Facility

K. Patricia Bouweraerts
Manase Taukiuvea and Jake Trujillo Image

Manase Taukiuvea and Jake Trujillo, Technical Pathway students speak at the Sept. 20 ceremony to open William N. Pennington Applied Technology Center.

The advanced technical skills now needed by an emerging workforce were captured in a visually detailed description by Rick Trachok, Nevada System of Higher Education Board of Regents Chair.

“We do need people that understand the new manufacturing process—this isn’t the old shop floor with shavings of metal everywhere,” he said. “We need people that understand the machines, they understand geometry, they understand complicated math—to make this type of economy work. …Let’s keep Nevada moving forward.”

Trachok spoke at the formal ribbon-cutting ceremony for William N. Pennington Applied Technology Center on the afternoon of Sept. 20.

Administrative officials, faculty, students, business owners and guests clapped enthusiastically to celebrate the Center’s official opening. TMCC Foundation estimates that about 125-150 people attended the event.

“This is a state-of-the-art facility that I would match against any in the country,” said Jim New, Interim Vice President of Finance and Administrative Services. “This building and its programs have truly been a labor of love by the TMCC faculty and staff.”

Karin Hilgersom, PhD, TMCC President presented opening remarks, acknowledging and thanking the William N. Pennington Foundation for their historic gift of $4.3 million which made possible the extensive second phase of renovations. Also, with the multi-million dollar gift, two unique dual-credit programs have been inaugurated—a unique Washoe County School District (WCSD) Technical Pathway option and ACE Charter High School Middle College program.

The ribbon was held on each side by sophisticated robots Bender and Baxter, and was cut by the following community members:

  • William N. Pennington Foundation Board of Trustees:
    • Richard Banis
    • Fred Scarpello
    • Don Carano
  • Brad Woodring, TMCC Foundation Board President
  • Dr. Karin Hilgersom, TMCC President
  • Regent Rick Trachok, JD
  • Regent Jason Geddes, PhD
  • Wil Marshall, Economic Development Administration (EDA) Regional Representative
  • Jim New, TMCC VPFA
  • J. Kyle Dalpe, PhD, Interim Dean of Technical Sciences

A “Certificate of Recognition” was sent by Governor Brian Sandoval and read by Dr. Dalpe. Stephanie Ferguson, a regional representative of Senator Dean Heller also read a dedication to the Center.

The newly expanded Center will impact a generation of future Nevadans trained there for their future careers. Oswaldo Enriquez is enrolled in the Middle College program at ACE High School and TMCC.

“I’m on track to earn 12 credits in diesel technology, four credits in machining technology, six to nine credits in the manufacturing tech program just this year in high school,” he said from the podium. “Overall I will have saved $2,395 in tuition alone this year.”

Next at the ceremony, Manase Taukiuvea and JakeTrujillo came forward to speak.

“With more manageable class sizes, we received a more personalized education and that also allows us to gain a high level of thinking and comprehension,” Taukiuvea said.

Trujillo agreed.

“With these more manageable class sizes, we were able to create a sense of community and this really helps us build relationships with our teachers as well as our peers,” he said.

Taukiuvea continued.

“And none of this would be possible without the Pennington Foundation, this facility, or the high school and college faculty,” he said.

Trujillo summed up their comments.

“In turn, TMCC is helping us reach our future now,” he said.

Culmination of Many Years

The two-phase renovation took more than two years to complete. New served as Associate Dean and Dean of Technical Sciences at the Center for 11 years and oversaw the beginning of its new design and remodel. He spoke at the ceremony about seeing the Center progress from its origins as a former warehouse and manufacturing facility to the present, a modern educational site, well-equipped with leading-edge technologies.

“We have the best toys at the college,” he said, referencing robotic equipment, Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) and hands-on labs.

Programs offered at the ATC include the following:

  • Advanced Manufacturing/Production Technician
  • Architecture
  • Automotive
  • Construction Management
  • Diesel Technology
  • Computer Numerical Control (CNC) Machine Technician
  • Energy Technologies
  • Heating, Ventilation, Air Conditioning and Refrigeration (HVAC/R)
  • Machining Technology
  • Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS)
  • Welding

Looking to Nevada’s Future

Bender and Baxter, the two large red and gray robots at each side of the stage were part of the demonstrations and tours following the ribbon-cutting event.

Alex Majewski, Instructor of Advanced Manufacturing and Production Technology, answered questions about the types of tasks robots can perform.

“Bender and Baxter are intuitive and intended to work side by side with humans,” he said. “Robots like these are useful in fields such as logistics, pickers and placers, where slow and repetitive movements are needed. Also, they’re useful when there is a long cycle and there is downtime in the middle of a cycle.”

Reno is a well-known logistics and warehousing hub. He said that robots are an ingenious and positive part of the future.

“Humans aren’t made for repetitive tasks, we’re meant to excel at creativity and critical thinking,” he said.

For more information about Technical Science programs at TMCC, please call 775-856-5320.