BROKEN BOW—Only seven years since the original building was established in Broken Bow, Mid-Plains Community College (MPCC) has already expanded with a 3,500-square-foot technical shop. Community officials, MPCC representatives, and local investors celebrated with a ribbon cutting and open house on Monday afternoon.
The space incorporates welding bays and hands-on training simulators for ACDC electrical, PLC, motor controls, heating, ventilation, and air conditioning. Broken Bow Campus Coordinator Kaci Johnson says she hopes the training modules will spark interest in technical fields for not only a college degree, but also a lifelong career.
“This shop was needed by our college because we were ready to expand into that technical trade, into the trades. We needed the space and we needed to be able to bring a lot of students in with a lot of equipment. We reached out to the community and they made it happen. We can’t say enough of gratitude for the support of our community,” Johnson said.
Local investors of Custer County businesses partnered with MPCC to increase the amount and types of technical training offered at the campus. Johnson said the open house was designed as a “celebration of thanks” for all of the support needed to make the expansion possible.
MPCC President Ryan Purdy said the space and the training simulators are designed for everyone; from high school students learning new skills to employers hoping to expand the training of their employees.
“It gives us space to offer more technical training to our students and really, employers or perspective employers or employees even. This isn’t really targeted to one specific group but anybody that’s looking for a career in a technical field, whether it be electrical or HVAC. With these trainers we have here on site, those are great opportunities for them to kind of get their taste buds wet,” Purdy said.
Technical Enrollment Coach Paul Knopick said the mobile trainers will be moved throughout high schools in the MPCC 18-county service area to build knowledge and interest in technical field careers, which he says are in high demand.
“We got trainers for our electrical and HVAC. We have a heat pump trainer, and an ACDC trainer that will mainly go out to the high schools. We’ve also got motor controls and a PLC trainer that a lot of the area businesses will use to train their employees,” Knopick said.
The total cost of the project was $292,000. MPCC committed $135,000 and Custer Campus, Inc. contributed $157,000.
Larry Nelson worked as the architect for the project and within the new space, applied technology simulators will give students the opportunity to learn that electrical work is much more than a light switch and an outlet. Purdy said 96% of MPCC students who earn technical degrees stay in Nebraska.