Sen. Vickers headlines opening of new Southwest Applied Technology College building

L-R: Dot McFarland, Southwest Applied Technology College student of the year 2016, joined Sen. Vickers and SWATC President Wood in cutting the ribbon, Southwest Applied Technology College, Cedar City, Utah, March 31, 2016 | Photo by Carin Miller, St. George News

CEDAR CITY — At the opening of the new Southwest Applied Technology College building on Thursday, keynote speaker and District 28 Sen. Evan J. Vickers praised the seven years of cooperative efforts that culminated in the new facility.

Senator Evan Vickers emotionally recalls the story of a young man who found a future thanks to Southwest Applied Technology College, Cedar City, Utah, March 31, 2016 | Photo by Carin Miller, St. George News
Sen. Evan Vickers emotionally recalls the story of a young man who found a future thanks to Southwest Applied Technology College, Cedar City, Utah, March 31, 2016 | Photo by Carin Miller, St. George News

“(Applied Technology Colleges) are a key component in our economic growth,” Vickers said. “If you think about what an ATC does and what an education does …  a building like this is going to be able to cater skills to specific industries in our community and in our state.”

In Utah, there is potential for an additional 10,000 employees in the aerospace industry alone, he said, adding that Hill Air Force Base would quickly gobble up half of those numbers.

“Boeing would like to build their next plant here,” Vickers said, “but it would take an additional 5,000 trained employees, and that goes everywhere from engineers down to skilled technicians.”

In fall of 2016, Southwest Applied Technology College will launch a new program called Utah Aerospace Pathway Initiative. The initiative is a partnership between the technology school, the Government Office of Economic Development, Iron County School District and MSC Aerospace.

The pilot program will allow 12 to 15 students from Cedar High School and Canyon View High School the opportunity to gain first-hand experience in knowledge in the field, said Denny Heaton, vice president for Instruction and Facilities at Southwest Applied Technology College.

The Culinary Arts program showed their stuff at the grand opening for the news school building, Southwest Applied Technology College, Cedar City, Utah, March 31, 2016 | Photo by Carin Miller, St. George News
The Culinary Arts program showed their stuff at the grand opening for the new building, Southwest Applied Technology College, Cedar City, Utah, March 31, 2016 | Photo by Carin Miller, St. George News

“They’ll do the first 45 hours at Canyon View (for) the introductory beginnings,” he said, “and then they’ll come to SWATC for 45 hours and they will do some more of the laboratory work and learn how to do the manufacturing process — in this case, precision sheet metal fitting.”

Students will then spend 45 hours working an internship in the field at MSC Aerospace, handling tools and completing real projects, Heaton said.

Programs like this are just one example of the innovative learning opportunities available to those interested in a technical career. The new building — located on the main campus at 757 W. 800 South —houses the facilities that make it possible for these programs to develop and flourish in the community.

Transform Your Potential, Southwest Applied Technology College, Cedar City, Utah, March 31, 2016 | Photo by Carin Miller, St. George News
“Transform Your Potential” saying visible on the way into the new building, Southwest Applied Technology College, Cedar City, Utah, March 31, 2016 | Photo by Carin Miller, St. George News

“It helps us attract students,” Southwest Applied Technology College President Brennan M. Wood said of the new building. “A modern facility such as this is really a must to attract students, (and) prior to this facility, many of our high school student were coming to us from facilities superior to that of their college’s.”

Once students are engaged, Wood said, it is the obligation of the institution to educate and equip them with unique and marketable skills, no matter what program they choose.

From participants in the culinary artists program that catered the opening event to automotive technicians to phlebotomists, Wood said Southwest Applied Technology College provides vast opportunities for anyone looking to further or shift careers through technical education.   

“I want to point out that there’s some artwork just outside,” Wood said, explaining that the metal structure at the front of the building had two sayings on it — one seen when walking through toward the building, and another seen on the way out. “As you walk in, (it says) ‘transform your potential,’ but as you gain that skill, that marketable skill, we want you to go out and ‘transform the world.’”

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Email: cmiller@stgnews.com

Twitter: @STGnews

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2016, all rights reserved.

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