Normally when people are invited to a ribbon-cutting ceremony, they expect a big red ribbon and large scissors. At Moutainland Technical College on Friday morning the ceremony looked a little different.
The college opened its new building as only a trade college should, with a metal ribbon made by students and a ribbon cutting unlike any other.
The ceremony marked the grand opening of the college’s new Trades and Technology building, an 89,000-square-foot building that includes classroom space, labs, car shops and more.
The building will be home to various topics of study including automotive technology, diesel mechanics, welding, precision machining, automated manufacturing and other high-demand, industry-driven programs, including information technology, mobile application development and web development, according to a press release.
“What you see behind me is a remarkable facility dedicated to upward mobility for students, the economy and our entire region,” MTECH board chair Terri Hunter said at the ceremony. “Within these walls are almost 90,000 square feet of space, focused on students’ success. Facilities like this are the result of years of hard work, 10 years to be exact. The excellent economy in Utah and our region, continues to have a high demand for a technically trained workforce. This beautiful building helps us meet the demand to prepare students with technical skills to meet our workforce demands.”
Hunter also noted the enrollment totals MTECH has been seeing during the COVID-19 pandemic, adding that the college is one of the fastest-growing institutions in the state with a 13.5% increase in enrollment from last year.
The increased enrollment shows the need for MTECH’s programs in the area.
“We don’t build buildings because of one person or a handful of people and their passion, it’s because there is a need,” President Clay Christensen said during the ceremony. “There are great opportunities that await our students in these IT and trade programs in this building. Our economy needs the trades, our workforce needs the trades, these students need the trades.”
One thing Christensen pointed to was the growth of information technology companies in the Lehi area and Utah County, specifically in the Silicon Slopes region.
When MTECH cut the ribbon on its original building approximately 10 years ago, Christensen said the college was the only one in the Thanksgiving Point development. Since then, the growth and expansion has been continuous nearby.
With that expansion comes the need for more construction jobs to not only build the new buildings but also maintain them. That is all due to the work of trades-trained employees.
“What has happened here is that it’s enabled the college to substantially increase our capacity for the training programs,” Christensen said. “This about quadrupled the size and capacity, so we will be able to train more students to enter into the workforce. One of the unique challenges that we have in our region, we have waiting lists of people to come into our programs and by adding this facility this allows us to address that waiting list and that overage that is in place. It will dramatically impact students.”
One of the programs that the building will house is the college’s welding program. According to the Utah System of Higher Education chair Harris Simmons, the program sees over 300 students graduate per year and it infuses $3.5 million into the economy every year.
State senator Jake Anderegg added that he normally does not like how much money is spent on higher education in the area but he has no problem justifying the investment made at MTECH with his constituents due to that return on investment.
“The return on investment at MTECH is so much greater than what we get from our higher education institutes,” Anderegg said. “For every one engineer that comes out of our higher education we need about 13 tech positions in order for the economy to be at full capacity. That happens here. With the return on investment, not only to the economy but to those students who come here, you can’t compete.”
Speaking to that return on investment that students receive from the college, Simmons added that high school students attend for free while 99.5% of the students who graduate from MTECH do so debt free.
The college also has 557 available credits that transfer over to UVU so that students can continue on with their education if they choose.
With the expanded space at MTECH, more students will get trained in trades and technology with minimal debt, allowing them to enter into the workforce and contribute to the economy immediately after graduation.