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College expansion geared to fill Missouri jobs

Moberly Area Community College in the Parkade Center on Business Loop added 16,500 square feet to its campus space. Now, the college operates on more than 50,000 square feet.

The college needed more space after reaching capacity for its current setup. With more than 2,000 students, MACC expanded into the lower-level area of the building. The extra space allowed the college to offer a new program, called “mechatronics.”

The program comes after 3M, Regional Economic Development, Inc. (REDI) and other local companies contacted MACC with a need to fill open manufacturing jobs, a topic Sen. Claire McCaskill discussed on her visit to Columbia earlier this week.

“Career and technical education is a part of our mission, so we’re the natural fit for that kind of program,” said MACC President Jeff Lashley. “I believe that’s why they reached out to us.”

With more manufacturing jobs using automated equipment, more people are needed to operate and maintain it. The “mechatronics” program teaches a mixture of mechanical, electronic, and computer information engineering.

According to the Missouri Economic and Research Information Center, the need for mechanical engineers and other related careers will increase by 8 percent next year. On average, an entry level position starts at $17.24 an hour.

To help with the expansion, 3M donated $70,000 to MACC to help purchase new equipment for the program.

Mechatronics instructor Mike Klote said he plans to see an even mixture of students enrolling, whether they’re coming from high school or from the workforce wanting to develop new skills. Students can sign up for the “mechatronics” program beginning in the fall.

Along with the addition of the program, the expansion allowed more room for new classrooms, computer labs, office spaces and a new art studio with natural lighting.

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