By DALE LINDER-ALTMAN, T&D Staff Writer
Orangeburg-Calhoun Technical College officially opened the doors of the Anne S. Crook Transportation and Logistics Center on Monday with pledges that it will provide workers with the skills they need and boost the region's economy.
U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham, a Republican who helped get $1.5 million in federal funds for the building, said "The building that I'm talking about today, named after a wonderful person, is going to allow this part of South Carolina to offer the educational skills to people who live in our area to get some of the best jobs in the 21st century."
The 25,000-square-foot center, named after the college's president, will be used to train students in transportation, logistics, mechatronics and fabrication, said Dr. Wanda Staggers, dean of computer, engineering and industrial technologies. It includes classrooms, labs, faculty offices and meeting space.
The college has offered truck driver's training and welding in the past, but the programs will be expanded in the new building, she said.
The field of logistics includes directing the movement of materials. In the program, students will learn to use technology to track shipments on trains and trucks and in the air.
Mechatronics is a combination of mechanical and electronic engineering, Staggers said. Students will be trained to set up manufacturing lines that use machines to do repetitive jobs.
Welding and fabrication fit in with the manufacturing program, she said. In the fabrication program, students will learn the best way to bend metals and how to design molds to work the most efficient way.
In the future, "there will be more jobs with a different skill set," Staggers said. "The machines can apply the glue, but there still will be worker to oversee it. It will alleviate the repetition for the human. He will be able to monitor six machines instead of operating just one."
During Monday's ceremony, officials praised Crook for her effort to make the center a reality.
Larry W. Patrick, past chairman of the OCtech Area Commission, praised Crook for having the determination to stay with plans to finish the building in spite of the board's discouragement over budget cuts.
"I'm here to say Dr. Crook and her mind-set was that ‘We need this building, we need it for the future development of this area. We need it, we are going to build it and we will find the money.' And she did," he said.
State Rep. Jerry Govan, D-Orangeburg, said Crook's drive and determination, "is something that sets her apart as one of the premier college presidents in this state and makes this institution one of the premier institutions not only in the state, but in this section of the country."
State Rep. Harry Ott, D-St. Matthews, said that a real leader is one who can "think out into the future and prepare for what the future might bring."
Crook did that by developing a facility that can train students in new technologies and give them the opportunity to find jobs, Ott said.
"Ladies and gentlemen, in this economy, having the opportunity to get a job is a wonderful thing," he said.
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