Ozarks Technical College is in the final community weeks of the Robert W. Plaster Center for Advanced Manufacturing.
On Aug. 15 — in less than five weeks — Gov. Mike Parson will join lawmakers, industry leaders, donors, and local officials for the grand opening celebration.
The event is at 10 am that day and will include tours.
“There is a lot of interest and excitement and engagement with the center, even at this point,” said Robert Randolph, executive director of the CAM, as it is called.
The $40 million project, the largest in the history of OTC, is being built at the southeast corner of the college’s Springfield campus. It sits at the intersection of National Avenue and Chestnut Expressway.
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Starting this fall, it will offer state-of-the-art training and education in robotics, fabrication, mechatronics, automation, drafting and design and 3-D printing.
The 120,000-square-foot structure is more than 500 feet long and being built in three phases, from east to west.
“We’re in multiple different phases of completion at this point,” Randolph said.
In the east end, crews are working on final pieces with a plan to move the furniture and equipment into place.
“We have actually begun the move-in process of all of our labs and furniture,” he said. “We are storing these in the high bay manufacturing space right now. As each individual lab and classroom becomes available, we’re moving into those.”
Most of the exterior work is done. On the south side, landscaping and trees are already in place.
The crown jewel of the facility is the high bay manufacturing space. It takes up 30,000 square feet.
The space is two stories high on a thick concrete slab. It will be used by OTC as well as industry partners.
“It’s manufacturing shop space but it’s very attractive. It’s clean, bright, well-lit with lots of windows on the south side letting in daylight. We also have a lot of visibility out to Chestnut Expressway and then into the building,” Randolph said .
The center will be the new home of OTC’s technical programs including:
- Industrial Systems Technology
- Manufacturing Technology
- Precision Machining
- Drafting and Design
- Computer Networking
The footprint of the center will include a business incubation center, a space reserved for local industry to conduct training, research and development.
Randolph said the center was designed to be toured. There are stairs assembly near the entrance, which can serve as a staging area.
Visitors and students will be able to use a catwalk to view the high-tech equipment and training.
“We really want to bring in a lot of tours,” Randolph said. “We want this to be a field trip destination to bring in fourth-, fifth-, sixth-graders to see what manufacturing can look like and what college and OTC looks like.”
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The center was made possible after approved a property tax increase of five cents per $100 assessed valuation, raising the OTC property tax levy to 20 cents in April 2018.
The project has received state funding and private donations, as well.
Randolph said the project was not immune to supply chain issues that have been a challenge nationally. He credits the decision to buy some materials early on and make other quick decisions to keep the project on time and within the budget.
“I don’t think anyone could have foreseen how challenging things would get,” he said. “But we did know it was going to be uncertain so we made some of those large purchases early.”
Claudette Riley is the education reporter for the News-Leader. Email news tips to email@example.com.